USDA forecasts that agricultural exports, imports, and the agricultural trade surplus will reach record levels in FY2011 of $137 billion, while agricultural imports are expected to reach $93 billion. Since the early 1990s exports of high-value products (e.g., fruits, vegetables, meats, wine and beer) have increased and now account for 60% of total U.S. agricultural exports. Exports of bulk commodities (e.g., soybeans, wheat, and feed grains) remain significant.
The United States in 2011 is forecast to be the world's leading exporter of corn, wheat, soybeans, and cotton. The U.S. share of world beef exports, which declined after the 2003 discovery of a case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in the United States, is recovering as more countries have re-opened their markets to U.S. product. The United States, European Union, Australia, and New Zealand are dominant suppliers of dairy products in global agricultural trade. New Zealand and the United States are the main suppliers of nonfat dry milk to world markets, while the EU is the leading supplier of cheeses.
Rapid growth for U.S. agricultural products has been seen in China as well as Canada and Mexico, both partners of the United States in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Most U.S. agricultural imports are high-value products, including fruits, nuts, vegetables, wine, and beer. The biggest import suppliers are NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, and the EU. Together these three are forecast to provide more than 50% of total U.S. agricultural imports in FY2011. Brazil, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Colombia are also important suppliers of agricultural imports to the United States.
According to estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States provides the third-lowest amount of government policy-generated support to its agricultural sector among OECD countries. The United States' average applied tariff for agricultural products is estimated by the World Trade Organization to be 8.9%, a little more than twice the average applied tariff for non-agricultural products. Export subsidies, export credit guarantees, and market development programs are among the programs used by the United States to promote U.S. agricultural exports. The United States also provides U.S. agricultural commodities to developing countries as food aid for emergency relief or use in nonemergency development activities.
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