USDA boosted its estimated agricultural trade export forecast for 2006 to a record $67 billion - $2.5 billion above its February estimates. Exports will continue to expand most in East Asia, Canada, and Mexico. Exports are forecast lower for Southeast Asia and the EU-25, and remain largely unchanged for the Middle East.
A 5-million-ton increase in corn and sorghum shipments and higher unit values raise coarse grain exports to $6.5 billion. U.S. corn faces less competition from China and Argentina, and prices are rising due to strong domestic demand for animal feed and ethanol production. Sorghum exports are raised due to strong feed grain demand from Mexico. Wheat export volume is lower, but higher unit values leave export value unchanged.
Compared with 2005, the export outlook reflects a sharp increase for horticultural products, mostly due to strong foreign demand and higher prices for fruits and tree nuts. Coarse grains are up due to large domestic crops, reduced foreign competition, and higher unit prices. Higher values for corn and soybeans are supported by strength in domestic demand for animal feeds and biofuel production. An increase in U.S. cotton exports is supported by a record U.S. crop, strong global consumption, and record demand from China. Beef exports are up, with increased sales to Canada and Mexico.
Forecast fiscal 2006 agricultural imports are raised to a record $65 billion, up 13% from 2005 and continuing the faster pace that began in 2003. Fresh produce, wine, and beer continue to drive much of the growth, and vegetable oils and live cattle are also sharply higher. Beef imports are flat with more cattle crossing the border. Tropical products, especially rubber, coffee, and sugar, are up although their share of imports has fallen over the longer term.
-USDA's Quarterly U.S. Agricultural Trade Outlook