Will Japan Continue to Buy U.S. Beef?

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

The beef sector has been largely unphased by the ongoing U.S. trade disputes with other countries. Fortunately, trade quarrels with the largest U.S. beef customers, South Korea and Japan, have been avoided. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), through October of last year, the value of overall U.S. beef exports was up 19 percent compared to the previous year. Exports to Japan were up 15 percent and those to South Korea were up 50 percent. Japan was the largest U.S. customer, purchasing nearly $1.5 billion in U.S. beef. For Nebraska, the nation’s largest beef exporter, these exports have helped offset the less than stellar export performance of other agricultural commodities.

steakNebraska beef producers need exports to grow again in 2019 to help offset the expected growth in beef production. However, the launch of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) at the beginning of the year could be a headwind for increased export growth. The CPTPP is comprised of 11 countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Japan. It was resurrected from the ashes of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) of which the U.S. was a part until President Trump withdrew in January 2017. Under the CPTPP, Japan will lower tariffs on beef imports from CPTPP members over a 15-year period. Japanese beef purchases from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Mexico will have reduced tariff rates and purchases of U.S. beef will continue to face higher tariffs, placing U.S. exports at a competitive disadvantage.

Australian beef is the primary competitor to U.S. beef in Japan. A report by the University of Tennessee showed the shifts in beef suppliers to Japan could be significant under the CPTPP. According to the report, “For chilled beef, lower tariffs appear to benefit Australian beef, at the expense of U.S. beef. The projection range suggests that Australian beef could increase by as much as $139 million, while U.S. beef could decrease by as much as $143 million.” Analysis by the USMEF echoes the University of Tennessee findings, “. . . the U.S. share of Japan’s growing beef imports is expected to decline, from 43 percent to 36 percent by 2023, and to 30 percent by 2028. Due to widening tariff disadvantages and lost opportunities, U.S. beef annual export losses by 2023 are estimated at $550 million, and will exceed $1.2 billion by 2028. On a per-head basis, losses are estimated at $20.40 by 2023 and $43.75 by 2028.”

The Trump Administration is in the process of negotiating a free trade agreement with Japan. The specter of the potential losses in beef exports has many in U.S. agriculture encouraging the Administration to see these negotiations to a successful end sooner rather than later. A trade agreement with CPTTP-like tariff reductions on U.S. beef would level the playing field and help maintain U.S. market share in Japan’s large and growing market. Nebraska, more than any other state, needs to see these negotiations be successful.

 

Jay RempeJay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and a firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide an in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.

Tariff Threats No Longer Just Bluster

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

Last week marked a new extreme in the trade tensions between the U.S. and China as President Trump moved forward with tariffs on $34 billion of imported Chinese machinery, auto parts, and medical devices.  China responded immediately with tariffs on several U.S. products including soybeans and pork.  Several U.S. trading partners have now imposed tariffs on U.S. commodities and processed foods in response to tariffs imposed by the U.S.  With all the threats and tariffs imposed, it’s difficult to stay abreast of where things now stand.  Table 1 summarizes recent tariffs enacted by other countries on U.S. agricultural products which will affect Nebraska.  Continue reading

Sometimes Timing is Everything . . .

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

Some Nebraska farmers have said they aren’t too concerned with the ongoing trade tensions with China, the largest customer for U.S. soybeans.  If the tensions were bad for the soybean market, they state, soybean prices would have dropped.  Price haven’t dropped, so the Chinese trade tensions are not a problem.  Sometimes, though, timing is everything—could it be the timing of rising Chinese trade tensions coincided with other market happenings which mitigated any price response?
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Trade Tensions Rise . . .

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

Last week China issued a list of 106 U.S. products and goods, 37 of which are agricultural, that will face additional tariffs in retaliation to the April 3 announcement by the Trump Administration that the U.S. intends to enact tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China.  The latest Chinese list includes soybeans, corn, and beef, the top three exports commodities from Nebraska, and are in addition to a list announced earlier which included added tariffs on pork and ethanol.  Last Friday, it was revealed President Trump has instructed administration officials to investigate whether tariffs on another $100 billion of Chinese goods is warranted.  Thus, it appears the U.S. and China are rapidly escalating to a full-fledged trade war.   Continue reading

Trade Deficits: Good or Bad?

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

The U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world has been getting a lot of attention lately.  In January, the deficit was estimated to be $56.6 billion, the highest level in nearly a decade.  President Trump believes the trade deficit is bad and argues the U.S. is losing to other countries with which it trades.  Accordingly, he believes the U.S. must renegotiate trade agreements and enact tariffs on imported goods to rectify the large deficits.  The President’s arguments raise two questions:  Are trade deficits inherently bad? And, is the U.S. losing to the rest of the world by having such large trade deficits?  Continue reading

What’s Ahead for 2018 . . .

Economic Tidbits 12.18.17

The USDA expects prices for corn, cattle, and soybeans to be off a bit in 2018.  Prices for wheat and hogs are expected to be higher.  Given the large production levels of all these commodities in recent years, prices, while soft, have been stable due to relatively strong demand, boosted in part by robust export markets.  The strong demand needs to continue, and, thus far, signs point to demand remaining strong.  For example, Jim Robb, director of the Livestock Market Information Center, recently said the average American is expected to eat 219 pounds of red meat and poultry this year, the highest level since 2007.

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Nebraska County Export Values . . .

 

Economic Tidbits logoInternational trade and foreign markets are critical to Nebraska agriculture.  To get a sense of which Nebraska counties are most reliant on international trade, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture has created a map showing export values by county for select commodities (see below).  Commodities included are beef and beef products, corn, dairy products, distillers grains, ethanol, pork and pork products, pulses, sorghum, soybeans and soybean products and wheat.  The map was created using 2015 Nebraska cash receipts data and attributing shares to counties based on county production data.  Platte County topped the state with export values of $245 million.  Custer, Holt, Boone and Cuming Counties fall in the next tier with export values between $125-$150 million.  Most counties in Nebraska generate at least $25 million in export values, which no doubt contributes significantly to their local economies.

The top counties stand to gain the most from increased access to foreign markets.  Free trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, Korea, Colombia and others, while benefitting all counties, have been particularly beneficial to these counties.  An analysis last year of the benefits of the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) by Nebraska Farm Bureau showed many of these same counties would have benefited from the $378 million in increased receipts Nebraska was projected to receive under the agreement.  The map clearly demonstrates it is in the interest of Nebraska agriculture to continue to press for more open international markets in agricultural products.
county exports

 

Jay Rempe is the senior economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Rempe’s background in agricultural economics, years of experience in advocating at the state capitol, and firm grasp of issues allow him to quantify the fiscal impact of a regulatory proposal, and provide in-depth examination of key issues affecting Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.