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Expanding markets for U.S. ag

Expanding markets for U.S. ag

More products will be heading to countries in Asia and Africa

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

More U.S. farm goods will be allowed to enter certain countries going forward.

As part of the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement, China has agreed to allow imports of fresh U.S. chipping potatoes from Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

This access could be worth about US$20 million per year to the American potato sector.

Previously, China didn’t allow market access for fresh potatoes (other than seed potatoes) from any country because of sanitary and phytosanitary concerns.

“Today’s announcement is 20 years in the making and will allow Chinese consumers for the first time to enjoy potato chips sourced from high-quality U.S. fresh potatoes,” Jared Balcom, vice-president of trade affairs with the National Potato Council, said in a statement. “We look forward to developing and expanding this vital market.”

China is already one of the top 10 export markets for U.S. potatoes. Industry representatives estimate the new access could position China as one of the top five destinations for U.S. potatoes.

Another country is also expanding its allowance of U.S. chipping potatoes.

Starting this year, Japan will accept imports of U.S. chipping potatoes on a year-round basis.

Previously, the U.S. could only ship chipping potatoes to Japan between Feb. 1 and July 30.

Sixteen states including Michigan, North Dakota, Colorado and Wisconsin have received Japanese permission to export potatoes.

Japan is the top export market for U.S. potatoes, receiving more than US$350 million worth of the crop in 2019.

U.S. wheat farmers will benefit from expanded market access in Africa.

American wheat can now be shipped to Kenya regardless of the crop’s state of origin or port of export.

This move will allow wheat from Idaho, Oregon and Washington to enter Kenya and gives U.S. exporters full access to the country’s wheat market, valued at around US$500 million annually.

Kenya previously used a non-scientific sanitary-phytosanitary ban to block wheat imports from those three states and within the Pacific Northwest for 12 years because of concerns about the potential presence of the disease flag smut.

The U.S. government is hopeful this new arrangement will be the first step towards a bilateral trade agreement with Kenya.

“Going forward, the USDA team looks forward to building on this success and further strengthening our relationship with Kenya as we pursue a new bilateral free trade agreement that will create additional market opportunities for U.S. producers and exporters,” Ted McKinney, undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, said in a statement.

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