Food & Agriculture
January 16, 2024
By Kristy Goodfellow, Vice President of Trade and Industry Affairs
- Advisory Committees: On Jan. 3., USDA and USTR announced that they are accepting applications for new members to serve on agricultural trade advisory committees (ATACs). On Jan. 9, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced the re-establishment of the President’s Export Council Subcommittee on Export Administration for issues pertinent to the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
- African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA): On Jan. 12, Bloomberg News reported that there was a broad agreement reached on the need to extend the AGOA agreement for another 10 years.
- World Trade Organization: WTO accession packages for Comoros and Timor-Leste are ready for formal adoption at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi from Feb. 26 to 29.
- Transportation: Shipping through the Red Sea has been challenging given attacks from Yemen’s Houthi militants. Shipping costs have increased.
- U.S. – India: On Jan. 12, USTR Ambassador Tai participated in the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. The readout highlighted work on agricultural trade irritants.
- Soy: In Dec., USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) published “Soybean Production, Marketing Costs, and Export Competitiveness in Brazil and the United States.” The report found that cost per bushel was higher in the United States than in Brazil.
- CRA: Join the CRA Team! We’re looking for a Sr. Director of Communications & Public Affairs to develop and execute strategic communications plans and join our team of leaders.
“These attacks have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardized trade, and threatened freedom of navigation.”
—President Biden in a Statement on Coalition Strikes in Houthi-Controlled Areas in Yemen
CRA IS HIRING
Join the CRA Team! We’re looking for a Sr. Director of Communications & Public Affairs to develop and execute strategic communications plans and join our team of leaders.
The Sr. Director, Communications & Public Affairs is a proactive leader with strong strategic, writing, and project management skills. The Sr. Director is responsible for branding, positioning, messaging, budget, and making communications a robust element of CRA and PBPC advocacy. The Sr. Director reports directly to the CRA President & CEO and works in close collaboration with the CRA Sr. V.P. for External Affairs and the Executive Director of the Plant Based Products Council.
Learn more on our website.
USDA AND USTR ACCPETING ATAC APPLICATIONS AND DOC ACCEPTING PRESIDENTAL EXPORT COUNCIL ON EXPORT ADMINISTRATION
- On Jan. 3, USDA and USTR announced that they are accepting applications for new Members to serve on agricultural trade advisory committees.
- As described in the announcement, Members of the six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees, or ATACs, provide technical advice and recommendations on international trade issues that affect specific agricultural commodity sectors. The ATACs focus on trade in:
- Animals and animal products
- Fruits and vegetables
- Grains, feed, oilseeds, and planting seeds
- Processed foods
- Sweeteners and sweetener products
- Tobacco, cotton, peanuts, and hemp
- Applications for USDA and USTR ATACs are due Jan. 31, 2024 at 5 p.m.
- On Jan. 9, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced the reestablishment of the President’s Export Council Subcommittee on Export Administration, for issues pertinent to the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
- Applications for the PEC Subcommittee on Export Administration are due Feb 8.
World Trade Organization
COMOROS AND TIMOR-LESTE WTO ACCESSION PACKAGES FINALIZED
- WTO accession packages for Comoros and Timor-Leste ready for formal adoption at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi from Feb. 26 to Feb. 29.
- As a WTO press release notes, Timor-Leste is a least-developed island country at the southern extreme of the Malay Archipelago, located off the southeastern coast of Asia between the Indian and Pacific oceans, with a population of approximately 1,320,000.
- Timor-Leste is a coffee exporter, and otherwise heavily reliant on oil exports to support its economy.
- As a WTO press release notes, Comoros is a least-developed country in the Indian Ocean, with a population of approximately 820,000.
- Comoros exports spices, including vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves, and an agricultural product used in the perfume industry.
- As a WTO press release notes, this is the first time since 2016 that new Members will join the WTO.
African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA)
PRESIDENT TAKES ACTION UNDER AGOA AND EXTENSION OF ISRAEL TRADE AGREEMENT
- On Jan. 12, Bloomberg News reported that there was a broad agreement reached on the need to extend the AGOA agreement for another 10 years.
- AGOA benefits are set to expire in September 2025.
- Bloomberg reported that following the three-day annual forum on AGOA in November, there was agreement that the accord’s current iteration needs modernization and stronger implementation.
- The Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder points to a drop off in trade growth after the first 10 years, and the heavy utilization oil and gas, with a lack of diversification in other sectors.
- The Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder also includes a section on the trade approaches of other countries with Africa. Notably, trade with China is growing at a significantly higher pace.
TRANSPORTATION COSTS INCREASE AS A RESULT OF CHALLENGES SHIPPING THROUGH THE RED SEA
- Shipping through the Red Sea has been increasingly challenging given attacks from Yemen’s Houthi militants.
- The WSJ reports that “Average worldwide costs to ship 40-feet-long containers have nearly doubled since November, according to London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants.”
- On Jan. 11, with a coalition, U.S. military forces conducted strikes against a number of targets in Yemen used by the Houthi militants.
- According to a President Biden press release, “Crews from more than 20 countries have been threatened or taken hostage in acts of piracy. More than 2,000 ships have been forced to divert thousands of miles to avoid the Red Sea.”
- According to The Economist, “trade volumes through the Suez Canal dropped by 40% as ships diverted around southern Africa”.
- The trade route links Europe and Asia, and about 12% of global trade passes through the canal, according to news sources.
U.S. – India
U.S.-INDIA TRADE POLICY FORUM HELD IN INDIA
- On Jan. 12, USTR Ambassador Tai participated in the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum.
- According to a joint press statement, the principals “welcomed the strong momentum in India-US bilateral trade in goods and services, which continued to rise and likely surpassed $200 billion in 2023 despite a challenging global environment.”
- Specific to agriculture, “The Ministers acknowledged the pending work to be completed for early finalization of market access for certain agricultural products of interest to both sides. They also conveyed their interest in enhancing their ongoing dialogue on food and agricultural trade issues in 2024 and to continue working to address outstanding issues through the Agriculture Working Groups, as well as the relevant sub-groups, utilizing science and risk-based principles. The Ministers welcomed the engagement and information exchange on necessary regulations regarding import of animal feed products, including alfalfa hay.”
- According to a USTR press release, during a meeting with India’s Minister of External Affairs, Tai and the Minister discussed their shared desire to work constructively together to ensure supply chain resilience and the success of the successful 13th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi next month.
- On Jan. 10, the U.S.-India Business Council hosted a roundtable as a precursor to the meeting.
USDA ECONOMIC RESEARCH SERVICE COMPARES U.S. AND BRAZIL SOY COMPETITIVNESS
- In December, the USDA Economic Research Service published “Soybean Production, Marketing Costs, and Export Competitiveness in Brazil and the United States.”
- The report found that cost per bushel was higher in the United States than in Brazil.
- Average national farm-level production costs per acre were lower in Brazil than the United States.
- U.S. Heartland exports were found to be the lowest cost, which the report attributes to proximity to ports and internal transportation costs.
- The report highlighted transportation improvements Brazil has made over the past decade that have improved their competitiveness.