ERS Charts of Note

Subscribe to get highlights from our current and past research, Monday through Friday, or see our privacy policy.
See also: Editor’s Pick 2017: Best of Charts of Note gallery.

Reset

U.S. sugar and sweetener trade with Mexico grew under NAFTA

Friday, August 19, 2016

Agreement by the United States and Mexico to implement the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with respect to bilateral trade in sugar and sweeteners starting in fiscal year 2008 led to a substantial increase in this trade. During fiscal years 2011-15, U.S. sugar imports from Mexico averaged about 1.5 million metric tons per year?contributing about 12 percent of the U.S. sugar supply?and U.S. exports of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to Mexico averaged about 950,000 metric tons?equal to about 12 percent of U.S. production. Agreements reached in December 2014 to suspend U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on sugar imports from Mexico imposed new restrictions on the quantity, price, and composition of U.S. imports of Mexican sugar. However, these measures still allow for larger volumes of trade than prevailed before 2008, and before the start of NAFTA?s implementation back in 1994. ?This chart is from the ERS report, A New Outlook for the U.S.-Mexico Sugar and Sweetener Market released on August 11, 2016.

The spread between U.S. and world sugar prices is widening

Friday, June 26, 2015

World raw sugar prices have fallen steadily since January 2011, and in May 2015 reached their lowest point since January 2009 due to growing production surpluses and the weakening Brazilian currency. U.S. raw sugar prices have also fallen relative to the record-high levels seen between 2010 and 2012, but have trended higher over the past year. Since the integration of U.S. and Mexican sweetener markets under NAFTA in 2008, U.S. and world prices had tracked more closely. However, those prices began diverging in March 2014 when the U.S. domestic sugar industry filed an anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigation against Mexican sugar imports, resulting in a December 2014 agreement that limits the volume of Mexican sugar entering the United States. With these new limitations on Mexican imports, the spread between U.S. and world prices has increased in recent months, though remains within ranges seen in recent years. This chart is based on the June 2015 Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook.

Vietnam's agricultural trade has grown rapidly in the past decade

Friday, April 24, 2015

After Vietnam joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), its agricultural trade within the 10-member regional trade bloc expanded. The normalization of trade with the United States in 2001 and WTO accession in 2007 also provided catalysts for growth and integration. Subsequent preferential trade agreements (PTAs) have led to tariff reductions that have only recently begun to take effect. Today, Vietnam’s agricultural trade is still led by trade with its ASEAN partners; however, China has become a major export market and Vietnam’s largest trade partner, while the United States is a close second, and also the largest source of imports. Trade growth with both partners has been significant, growing 7- and 10-fold, respectively, while imports from South America have also grown. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, now under negotiation, is viewed as important to Vietnam’s long-term economic strategy as it could potentially secure markets abroad and facilitate the flow of foreign investment. Vietnam seeks greater access for its textile and footwear industry, while exporting countries, including the United States, see Vietnam as a market with growth potential. This report is from the Amber Waves article, “Japan, Vietnam, and the Asian Model of Agricultural Development and Trade.”

Japan increasingly imports agricultural products from Asia and South America

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Japan is one of the largest markets for U.S. agricultural exports, and the United States has long been its largest supplier. However, in recent years the total value of U.S. agricultural exports to Japan has stagnated (in real terms) and the U.S. share of Japan’s agricultural imports has declined. U.S. exports to Japan of some major products—such as soybeans and fruits/preparations—are down since 2000, and others, such as wheat and corn, have remained flat. Japanese imports of U.S. pork are an exception, with strong growth over the last 15 years. The decline in the U.S. share of Japan’s agricultural imports reflects greater competition from competing suppliers, especially in South America and Asia. Japan has expanded its imports of soybeans, soy meal, poultry meat, and grains from South America; palm oil, rubber, and poultry meat from Southeast Asia; soy meal from South Asia; and alcoholic beverages and processed foods from nearby South Korea. Nevertheless, the United States remains Japan’s largest supplier of agricultural products despite trade policies there that maintain a high level of protection for domestically produced products such as wheat and rice and many consumer-ready foods. This chart is from “Japan, Vietnam, and the Asian Model of Agricultural Development and Trade,” in Amber Waves, February 2015.

U.S. fruit and vegetable trade has grown during NAFTA

Friday, February 20, 2015

U.S. fruit and vegetable trade with Canada and Mexico has increased more than 380 percent since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Canada and Mexico now account for over half of all U.S. trade in fruits and vegetables, up from 37 percent in 1994. Over the same period, the share of U.S. fruit and vegetable trade with South America and Central America has remained relatively steady, while the share accounted for by Asia and the EU declined considerably. Mexico’s annual exports of fruit and vegetables to the United States (including juice) have more than tripled during the NAFTA period, approaching $9.4 billion in 2013. These exports have their roots in the development and growth over the past half century of a Mexican fruit and vegetable sector that is oriented toward the U.S. market. Annual U.S. fruit and vegetable exports to Mexico have more than tripled under NAFTA, reaching about $1.4 billion in 2013 and benefitting from the rapid expansion of Mexico’s supermarket sector, including several U.S. supermarket chains that operate there. At the same time, trade liberalization and broader use of greenhouse technology in Canada has allowed U.S. imports of fruit and vegetables from Canada to grow from $213 million in 1988 to $3.1 billion in 2013. Canada has long been a large market for the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry. During the NAFTA period, U.S. fruit and vegetable exports to Canada have grown from less than $2 billion in 1993 to $5.8 billion in 2013. The chart is from the report, NAFTA at 20: North America’s Free Trade Area and its Impact on Agriculture.

U.S. Agricultural Trade has expanded under NAFTA

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Agricultural trade among the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) member countries has grown since the agreement was implemented. The total value of intraregional agricultural trade (exports and imports) among all three NAFTA countries reached about $82.0 billion in 2013, compared with $16.7 billion in 1993 (the year before NAFTA’s implementation), and $8.8 billion in 1988 (the year before the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement’s (CUSTA) implementation). When the effects of inflation are taken into account, this expansion in intrare­gional agricultural trade corresponds to an increase of 233 percent between 1993 and 2013, compared to U.S. agricultural trade worldwide, which grew 126 percent over the same period. The vast majority of trade between these 3 nations involves the United States; U.S. agricultural trade with its 2 NAFTA partners alone reached $78.9 billion in 2013, compared with $16 billion in 1993. The expansion of U.S. trade under NAFTA reflects similar patterns of growth between exports and imports, highlighting the high degree of market integration across these nations. This chart is from the report, NAFTA at 20: North America’s Free Trade Area and its Impact on Agriculture.

U.S. trade-distorting agricultural support declines with higher world commodity prices

Monday, May 13, 2013

The current Agreement on Agriculture of the World Trade Organization (WTO) limits how much members can spend on trade-distorting support. Members notify this spending as the aggregate measurement of support (AMS), commonly called the “amber box.” The U.S. limit, or ceiling, is currently $19.1 billion, reduced from a starting point of $23 billion in 1995. For developed countries, the AMS includes support for specific commodities (product-specific support) that totals more than 5 percent of the value of production of that commodity, and support generally available to producers (non-product specific support) that totals more than 5 percent of the country’s total value of agricultural production. For the United States, only a small number of commodities have been supported above the 5-percent minimum (or de minimis) level, and general support has never risen above that level. Even so, during several years of low commodity prices, U.S. program support led to AMS totals close to the WTO ceiling. In recent years, however, high commodity prices have reduced program spending, and an AMS has been notified to the WTO for only a few commodities. This chart is based on data found on the U.S. WTO Domestic Support Reduction Commitments and Notifications topic page on the ERS website.

Number of reciprocal trade agreements and their contribution to world trade has grown over time

Friday, August 31, 2012

Countries use bilateral and regional trade agreements to increase market access and expand trade in foreign markets. These agreements are called reciprocal trade agreements (RTAs) because members grant special advantages to each other. RTAs include many types of agreements, such as preferential arrangements, free trade agreements, customs unions, and common markets, in which members agree to open their markets to each other's exports by lowering trade barriers. RTAs have become an increasingly prominent feature of the multilateral trading system in recent years. According to the World Trade Organization, there were 186 such agreements in force in 2005, up from 50 just prior to the Uruguay Round in 1994, less than 25 in 1985, and just 13 agreements in 1975. As the number of agreements expanded, the RTA share of world trade rose from 22 percent in 1975 to over 50 percent in 2005. This chart comes from Reciprocal Trade Agreements: Impacts on Bilateral Trade Expansion and Contraction in the World Agricultural Marketplace, ERR-113, April 2011.

China has become a significant export market for U.S. DDGS, a co-product of the corn ethanol process

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The expansion of corn-based ethanol production in the United States yields a large volume of residual co-products called distillers dried grain with solubles (DDGS). Approximately 75 percent of DDGS are utilized in the domestic U.S. market, but Chinese importers seeking raw materials for animal feed have emerged as a significant export market. High feed prices and favorable tax treatment within China stimulated a surge of imports of U.S. DDGS during 2009-11. China's potential demand for U.S. DDGS depends on various factors that include the price of corn, Chinese policy, and the availability and price of other substitute feed ingredients, such as the byproducts of grain processing in China (residual products from alcohol production). Demand is robust, but slower growth in the U.S. supply of DDGS and uncertainties about Chinese policy may constrain growth in exports to China. This chart is found in China's Market for Distillers Dried Grains and the Key Influences on Its Longer Run Potential, FDS-12g-01, August 2012.

The value of agricultural production in Brazil continues to grow

Friday, August 3, 2012

With the world's largest arable land area of 76 million hectares, fifth largest population base, and a strong record of agricultural production and exports, Brazil is viewed by many as the latest model of global agriculture. Over the last quarter-century, Brazil's agricultural production has grown significantly. Using production and trade data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ERS found that the total value of the country's agricultural production between 1985 and 2008 grew 3.79 percent each year, driving up its share of total global production from 3.9 percent in 1985 to 5.7 percent in 2008. This robust production growth has increased Brazil's agricultural exports, with the total value of its agricultural trade growing 7.7 percent annually between 1985 and 2008. This chart comes from Policy, Technology, and Efficiency of Brazilian Agriculture, ERR-137, July 2012.

U.S. agricultural trade with the NAFTA countries reached record levels in 2011

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Agricultural trade within the NAFTA region has recovered from the recent global economic downturn, reaching record levels in 2011. The total value (exports and imports) of U.S. agricultural trade with Canada and Mexico reached about $72.1 billion in 2011, compared with $60.7 billion in 2008 and $54.7 billion in 2009. Prior to the downturn, regional agricultural trade had enjoyed a long period of sustained growth with few interruptions. Even when accounting for the effects of the recent downturn, U.S. agricultural trade with Canada and Mexico has nearly quadrupled since NAFTA's implementation in 1994. This chart is an update of one found in the ERS report, NAFTA at 17, WRS-11-01, March 2011.

Growth in developing economies continues to be important for U.S. agriculture

Monday, March 5, 2012

Projections for the agricultural sector through 2021 are based on assumptions about macroeconomic conditions. World GDP growth is projected to increase at an average annual rate of around 3.3 percent over the next decade. This return to long-run steady global economic growth supports gains in world food demand, global agricultural trade, and U.S. agricultural exports. The strongest economic growth is anticipated to occur in developing countries. This growth is important for agriculture because food consumption and feed use are particularly responsive to income growth in those countries, with movement away from traditional staple foods and increased diversification of diets. Developed economies of the world are projected to grow 2 percent annually, on average, from 2011 to 2021, with U.S. growth averaging about 2.5 percent. This chart is based on the macroeconomic assumptions that underpin the report, USDA Agricultural Projections to 2021, OCE-121, February 2012.

U.S. agricultural exports to Korea

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

U.S. agricultural exports to Korea can be divided into two groups: inputs for Korean industries, and products that compete with the outputs of Korean industries. Some of the "input" goods include wheat, corn, soybeans, cotton, and hides used in processing that are imported with little or no tariff. This is because (1) they do not displace domestic Korean production, and (2) the industries that use them need low-cost inputs to compete in the Korean and global marketplaces. The products from which the United States could gain the most from a U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement include those: (1) where tariffs are currently high, (2) that are competitive with Korean producers, and (3) where Korean demand responds strongly to lower prices. This chart is from the ERS report, Selected Trade Agreements and Implications for U.S. Agriculture, ERR-115, April 2011.

NAFTA trade has more than tripled since its inception in 1994

Friday, April 15, 2011

Agricultural trade within the NAFTA region is recovering from the recent global economic downturn. The total value (exports and imports) of U.S. agricultural trade with Canada and Mexico reached about $61.3 billion in 2010, compared with $60.7 billion in 2008 and $54.7 billion in 2009. Prior to the downturn, regional agricultural trade had enjoyed a long period of sustained growth with few interruptions. Even when accounting for the effects of the recent downturn, U.S. agricultural trade with Canada and Mexico has more than tripled since NAFTA's implementation in 1994. This chart is from the ERS report, NAFTA at 17: Full Implementation Leads To Increased Trade and Integration, WRS-11-01, March 2011.

Charts of Note header image for left nav