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Agricultural Trade Outlook Sees Bigger Drops in Exports and Imports

Friday, June 17, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Agriculture has lowered its agricultural export projections for fiscal year 2016 to $124.5 billion, $500 million below the February forecast and $15.2 billion less than total exports in FY 2015. The forecast for agricultural imports has also been revised downward (by $3.7 billion) but remains at a record high at $114.8 billion, which would be $800 million above FY 2015. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is forecast at $9.7 billion, down from $25.7 billion in FY 2015 and the lowest since FY 2006.

Grain and feed exports are forecast at $27.7 billion, up $500 million from February, primarily due to larger wheat and corn volumes and higher unit values for corn and sorghum. Oilseed and product exports are forecast at $26.1 billion, up $700 million in response to stronger soybean and soybean meal export volumes and higher soybean unit values. The forecast for livestock, poultry and dairy is lowered $300 million to $25.4 billion as lower dairy, poultry product and beef exports are not offset by gains in other livestock products. The forecast for horticultural products is down $1.2 billion to $33.5 billion.

The forecast for exports to Southeast Asia is reduced by $500 million, largely as a result of sluggish soybean and soybean meal sales during the first half of the fiscal year. Projections for North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa are each down $200 million. Exports to India are forecast up $200 million based on higher-than-expected shipments to date. The latest estimate has China tied with Mexico as the second-largest U.S. agricultural market after Canada.

On the import side, sugar and tropical products are forecast to be worth $23.4 billion, a $3.5 billion downward adjustment from the previous forecast due to lower imports of tropical products including coffee and rubber. Horticultural product imports are projected to increase approximately seven percent to $53.2 billion, but this is a $700 million reduction from the previous projection largely due to lower expected imports of fresh and processed fruits and nuts. Livestock, poultry and dairy imports are increased $800 million from the February forecast to $16.6 billion on stronger volumes and unit values for beef and pork. Imports of oilseeds and products are projected at $8.8 billion, the same as in FY 2015 but down $200 million from the previous estimate due largely to lower volume and unit values for canola seed and oil.

Imports from Mexico are projected to grow by $1.8 billion from FY 2015, an increase of $900 million from last quarter’s projection, making Mexico the largest supplier of agricultural products in FY 2016. This is largely due to a strong expected year across fruit, vegetable, nuts and other horticultural import markets. Canada is expected to be the second-largest supplier but projections have been adjusted downward $1.2 billion from the previous forecast and $600 million from the FY 2015 total. Imports from the European Union are expected to be $200 million below the February forecast at $20.7 billion and imports from Asia are forecast down $1.5 billion from the previous projection.

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