Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade

FY 2017 U.S. Agricultural Exports Forecast at $139.8 Billion, Up $10.2 Billion From Previous Year; FY 2018 U.S. Exports Projected at $139.0 Billion

The summary below is based on the:

Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade: August 2017
  • For fiscal 2017, the forecast of $139.8 billion for U.S. agricultural exports represents an increase of $2.8 billion from last quarter’s forecast and $10.2 billion from fiscal 2016, largely due to expectations in grain/feed and soybean exports.
  • Fiscal 2017 oilseeds and products exports are forecast at $32.5 billion, up $3.2 billion from fiscal 2016. Furthermore, the August forecast was raised by $800 million from the previous forecast for fiscal 2017 due to strong late-season shipments of soybeans, which more than offset slowing shipments of soybean meal.
  • Fiscal 2018 agricultural exports are projected at $139.0 billion, down $800 million from the revised fiscal 2017 forecast of $139.8 billion, largely due to reductions in corn and cotton exports.
  • Corn exports are forecast down $1.6 billion to $8.0 billion in fiscal 2018 due to lower volumes and unit values.  Strong competition from South America is expected to trim U.S. corn exports.
  • Cotton exports are forecast at $4.5 billion in fiscal 2018, down $1.3 billion from the fiscal 2017 estimate, as sharply higher stocks outside of China will limit U.S. export opportunities and put downward pressure on prices.
  • Oilseeds and product exports are forecast up $500 million to $33.0 billion in fiscal 2018, driven by record soybean export volume.
  • Exports of livestock, poultry, and dairy products are expected to be up $600 million in fiscal 2018, primarily due to higher dairy and pork exports. 
  • Horticultural product exports are forecast to increase $1.0 billion in fiscal 2018, led by shipments of tree nuts and fresh fruit and vegetables.

U.S. agricultural imports forecast at $116.2 in FY 2017 and $115.5 in FY 2018

  • The forecast for U.S. agricultural imports in fiscal 2017 was raised $1.7 billion from the previous forecast to $116.2 billion and is expected to be $3.2 billion above fiscal 2016. Horticultural and sugar and tropical products, the two largest commodity groups shipped to the United States, will account for the majority of the increased imports.
  • In fiscal 2018, total U.S. agricultural imports are expected to drop $700 million below the current fiscal 2017 estimate to $115.5 billion due to reduced imports of livestock and dairy products, oilseeds and products, and sugar and tropical products
  • Horticultural product imports are expected to reach a record high $55.6 billion in fiscal 2018. This would be approximately $700 million above the fiscal 2017 forecast, which is expected to be $1.8 billion above that for fiscal 2016.  In fiscal 2017, fresh fruit and processed vegetable volumes contribute to the expected increase in imports.  In fiscal 2018, higher unit values are expected for tree nut and fresh vegetables imports.
  • U.S. imports of sugar and tropical products in fiscal 2018 are expected to be down $400 million from the $23.6 billion expected for the fiscal 2017, primarily due to lower unit values of coffee. Fiscal 2017 projections were raised $300 million from the previous forecast and are expected to be $1.4 billion above fiscal 2016 due to strong expected coffee sales, slightly higher shipments and unit values of rubber, and an increase of cocoa shipments over the previous fiscal year.
  • The total import value of livestock, poultry, and dairy products is forecast to be down $800 million in fiscal 2018 to $15.2 billion.  Increased red meat supplies will drive U.S. beef imports down $200 million to $4.7 billion and U.S pork imports down $200 million to $1.5 billion. 
  • In fiscal 2017, imports of oilseeds and products are forecast at $9.0 billion, $600 million greater than fiscal 2016. The latest forecast was increased by $200 million from the previous forecast, due to projected increases in U.S. demand for and worldwide production of vegetable oils.  In fiscal 2018, oilseed and product imports are expected to be lower than those in fiscal 2017 due in part to lower prices.
  • Imports of grain/feed are expected to increase by $100 million in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 from each previous fiscal year, as demand for imported processed grain products grows.

U.S. agricultural trade surplus is forecast at $23.6 billion in FY 2017 and $23.5 billion in FY 2018

China is expected to remain the top destination market for U.S. agricultural exports in FY 2018

  • U.S. agricultural exports to China are forecast to grow $300 million above fiscal 2017 to $22.6 billion, primarily due to increased soybean and dairy exports, which more than offset reduced cotton exports.
  • Exports to Japan are forecast at $11.1 billion in fiscal 2018, down $400 million from fiscal 2017. Exports to South Korea in fiscal 2018 are projected to fall $500 million to $6.7 billion. Both reductions are primarily due to lower corn sales.
  • U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico in fiscal 2018 are forecast up $300 million to $18.8 billion as a result of growth in pork and dairy product exports.
  • In fiscal 2018, the forecast for exports to Canada is up $200 million to $21.2 billion, largely due to higher sales of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Exports to Southeast Asia for fiscal 2018 are forecast down $500 million to $11.0 billion, largely due to reductions in cotton sales to Vietnam and Indonesia.

In FY 2017 and 2018, Mexico is predicted to be the top U.S. agricultural supplier

  • In fiscal 2018, regional imports from the Western Hemisphere are expected to decrease $300 million from fiscal 2017 to $64.1 million, but North American imports will continue to increase.  In fiscal 2018, U.S. imports from Mexico are expected to grow $200 million due to continued growth in horticultural product volumes, albeit at a slower rate, while U.S. imports from Canada will remain unchanged.
  • In fiscal 2017, the projected total value of U.S. imports from Mexico was raised this quarter by $400 million to $22.9 billion as imports of horticultural products, such as fruits and nuts, have grown faster than expected.  The value of Canadian agricultural products sold to the United States in fiscal 2017 is expected to increase by $100 million to $21.8 billion due to strong imports of oilseed products. 
  • In fiscal 2018, U.S. imports from Asia are expected to decrease $100 million from fiscal 2017. In fiscal 2018, the expected value of shipments from Vietnam to the United States remains steady as increases in tree nut sales are offset by reductions in coffee shipments. U.S. agricultural imports from China, the largest supplier in the region, are forecast to increase by $100 million in fiscal 2018 due to higher expected imports of processed fruits and vegetables.
  • In fiscal 2017, U.S. imports from Asia are forecast up $1.0 billion from fiscal 2016 and $800 million from the previous projection to $18.6 billion.  U.S. imports from Indonesia in fiscal 2017 are expected to increase $300 million from the previous forecast due to strong sales of natural rubber and coffee, as well as palm oil. 
  • Compared with fiscal 2016, in fiscal 2017, U.S. imports from Brazil are expected to increase $100 million to $3.4 billion and U.S. imports from Colombia are forecast to rise $200 million to $2.5 billion due to strong sales of tropical products, such as coffee.  However, in fiscal 2018, the value of U.S. imports of coffee from these countries is expected to fall, thereby contributing to a drop in U.S. imports from the South American region of $400 million.
  • The U.S. agricultural trade forecasts are based on expectations that world per capita GDP growth will reach 1.8 percent in 2017 and 1.9 percent in 2018. The expectations for U.S. per capita GDP growth are 1.1 percent in 2017 and 1.6 percent in 2018 as the employment picture continues to improve and business investment and consumer spending remain solid.
  • The value of the U.S. dollar has declined substantially since the beginning of 2017, losing roughly 7 percent of its agricultural export-weighted value since January. The relatively weaker dollar improves U.S. export competitiveness.