“It is kicking our butts." that what United States Ambassador Gregg Dowd said about the coronavirus impacting U.S. agriculture exports in a virtual ag webinar with Congressman Adrian Smith.
He revealed that U.S. exports are down 3% overall due to a negative trade impact with Mexico, but trade with China is lessening the blow.
One of the biggest impacts of ag trade with Mexico are beef exports where we are down about 57% as Mexico’s economy continues to struggle this year according to Doud.
But with China, trade is up 11% and just in the last five weeks, U.S. ag sales to China are up 48%.
“Because if you look at what we did in 2017, the baseline year of our phase one agreement, that number was only 18%. So that gives you a feeling for how strong the phase one commitment has been for us in China, given the softness in the rest of the world," said U.S. Ambassador Gregg Doud.
He said when they first began trade discussion with China, their total ag imports were $124B, last year they were $133B, and this year they expect it to increase to $141B, whish is the same number as the United States’ total ag exports to the world.
“Other countries, especially China, they need us. There’s a narrative given our past and so forth that we benefited, somewhat from leaning on China, but I would argue that China needs us far more than we need them," said Congressman Adrian Smith.
U.S. Ambassador Gregg Dowd reaffirmed Smith’s comment by mentioning some discussions about agriculture he’s had with Chinese officials and how the United States’ exports to China are up 11%.
Dowd said China is just one of many countries that the U.S. has improved on trade deals with.
“We’ve been busy, in fact if you look at Canada, Mexico, Japan, and China, those are our top four markets for US ag exports. We’ve renegotiated our deals with all four of these countries since I’ve been in this office two and a half years," said Doud.
He said they’ve overhauled the United States' trading relationship with our top four markets by 47%.
Dowd has been heavily involved in phase one trade discussions with Chinese officials, which has had a big emphasis on agriculture--- resulting in a trend of increased exports
“In 2017, the baseline, we sent $24B in ag to China, we’re talking about this year being able to sell 36 and a half billion and next year over $40B," said Doud.
But as the Presidential election nears, how could a change in the Oval Office impact the phase one trade deal with China?
“The agreement says either party can walk away from this with 60 days’ notice. I think it would be very important to ask the other side what they plan to do here. I’ve seen where they’ve indicated that they don’t want to keep it," said Doud.
Smith said President Trump's followed through with his campaign promise, resulting in improved trade.
“That bipartisan result with USMCA, I think is one of the more effective precursors to launching us into further negotiations with other countries," said Smith
Doud added, "Nobody ever possibly dreamed we could do something like this with China, we’re doing it and we need to keep doing it."