Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade

FY 2018 U.S. Exports Forecast at $139.5 Billion; Imports at $118.5 Billion

Projections for U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal 2018 lowered $500 million from the November forecast, and $1.0 billion below the previous year's exports

  • Fiscal Year 2018 agricultural exports are projected at $139.5 billion, down $500 million from the November forecast, largely due to a 6-percent decline in oilseed and product exports that is only partially offset by increases in livestock, cotton, and grain
  • Oilseed exports are forecast down $2.0 billion to $31.1 billion as a result of slower soybean exports, mostly to China, and strong competition from Brazil.
  • Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are raised $800 million to $30.5 billion, led by higher forecasts for beef and pork
  • Cotton is forecast up $600 million to $5.4 billion on substantially higher unit values.
  • Grain and feed exports are forecast up $300 million to $29.7 billion, as gains for coarse grains, both corn and sorghum, more than offset a reduction for wheat.

U.S. agricultural imports forecast at $600 million below fiscal 2017, but $1.5 billion above the previous fiscal 2018 projection

  • Expected increases in imports of horticultural and grain and feed products are largely responsible for the upward adjustment in the forecast, but higher projected supplies of sugar and tropical products, and an expected increase in oilseed product imports also contributed to the change.
  • In fiscal year 2018, fresh vegetable imports are expected to be $200 million larger than previously expected, due to larger volumes. Essential oil imports are expected to reach $3.6 billion in fiscal year 2018, a $100 million increase from the previous forecast, with high levels of shipments expected after a strong first quarter.
  • Imports of grain and feed products are forecast to grow by $300 million from the previous forecast to $11.6 billion, due to projected increases in U.S. demand for processed grain products, as well as for wheat and oats.
  • Coffee products are expected to be worth $6.5 billion, due to higher unit values than previously expected. Natural rubber imports are expected to be $200 million higher than the November report, due to rising projected unit values and volumes.
  • Total oilseed and product imports for fiscal 2018 are expected to increase to $9.0 billion, a $200 million increase from November, due in part to stronger than expected volumes of vegetable oil shipments.

The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is forecast at $21.0 billion in FY 2018, just below the $21.3 billion in FY 2017

China is expected to be the largest U.S. export market

  • Exports to China are projected at $21.6 billion, $1.0 billion lower than the November forecast. U.S. soybean exports to China during the first quarter were down 26 percent from a year ago, while Brazilian shipments more than tripled, buoyed by ample exportable supplies.
  • Exports to Japan are forecast up $400 million from the November forecast to $11.5 billion on the strength of beef and pork demand. Exports to Hong Kong are forecast up $300 million to $4.1 billion, primarily as a result of greater beef sales.
  • Canada and Mexico remain the second and third largest U.S. agricultural markets, with export forecasts at $21.2 billion and $19.2 billion, respectively. Higher corn sales to Mexico were offset by declines in wheat and soybean shipments.
  • The forecast for South America is down $300 million, reflecting anemic demand for U.S. wheat in Brazil. U.S. wheat shipments to Brazil declined precipitously in October-December as Brazil turned to importing more supplies from Argentina.

Mexico expected to remain top U.S. agricultural supplier in fiscal 2018, followed by Canada and the EU

  • Mexico's projected sales total is now $24.0 billion, $400 million above the November forecast, due to expected increases in imports of fresh vegetables and livestock and meat products.
  • The value of Canadian agricultural products sold to the United States is expected to increase by $400 million to $22.8 billion, due to upward adjustments to U.S. imports of processed grain products and miscellaneous horticultural products, such as honey.
  • Fiscal year 2018 imports from the European Union (EU) are projected to increase from the last projection by $600 million to $21.8 billion, based on an expected rise in imports of horticultural products, such as wine and essential oils, as well as a rise in processed grain product imports.
  • Imports from Asia are forecast up $300 million from the previous projection to $19.0 billion. These adjusted expectations reflect increases in supplies from Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, where projections were increased by $200 million, primarily due to increased sales of natural rubber.