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A Vote on USMCA is a Vote for Predictability

USMCA

A Vote on USMCA is a Vote for Predictability

For all their legal nuance, trade agreements are written to make commerce more predictable. The rules are meant to increase business confidence, boost investment and spur job creation. It’s time for Congress to show bipartisan support for a more predictable North American market, and pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

USMCA is a much-needed upgrade of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a text that was largely copied over from the US-Canada bilateral trade agreement signed in 1988. To say that NAFTA is outdated is an understatement. Canada and Mexico have concluded trade deals with other countries that do things NAFTA could have never anticipated 25 years ago. USMCA is needed just to keep up.

Three chapters of USMCA deserve far more attention than they’ve received.

First, the chapter on health and safety standards is a must for US agriculture. The biggest threat to our ranchers and farmers is a lack of science-based import regimes abroad, not tariffs.

Tariffs are a tax on trade, whereas health and safety standards, applied in a non-scientific or in a discriminatory way, can act as a ban trade. US agricultural exporters have long demanded more science-based approaches to what are called sanitary and phytosanitary standards, and USMCA delivers on this. USMCA also puts forward a number of consultative mechanisms that will help prevent certain market access problems from arising in the first place.

US agriculture needs Chapter 9 of the USMCA.

Second, the chapter on technical barriers to trade is essential for US manufacturers. It covers the regulatory measures that impact over 90 percent of goods exports from the United States. This is fertile ground for protectionism. Governments can easily use regulatory measures, or ways of assessing conformity with them, that shield domestic producers from import competition. In fact, they can completely shut down trade with a few strokes of the legislative pen.

In USMCA, American manufacturers have more of a voice in the regulatory process in Canada and Mexico concerning their exports. Importantly, USMCA also calls on the three countries to recognize that, in setting technical specifications, performance, and not the provenance of the regulation, is what should matter. This is a longstanding US demand, and USMCA represents a tangible win for US exporters in this regard.

American manufacturing needs Chapter 10 of USMCA.

Third, the chapter on intellectual property is upgraded to reflect the needs of a building a creative economy. The list of international agreements that inform USMCA is striking; many didn’t exist in 1994, never mind in 1988. Copyright protections are modernized, as are those for biologics, a type of drug that could not have been imagined when NAFTA was negotiated. Whereas patents, alone, could help stimulate investment in small molecule drugs, they aren’t enough for the living systems that define biologics. USMCA brings Canada and Mexico closer to the US standard, and in this regard increases protection of American IP abroad.

Other IP provisions will assist a variety of America’s creative industries, from film to fashion to iPhones. These modernized rules, along with consultative mechanisms to ensure a level playing field, will provide the kind of protections that inventors need to bring their ideas to market. This is a win.

America’s creative industries need Chapter 20 of USMCA.

Still, there are some who, while recognizing the benefits of USMCA, worry that the deal cannot effectively enforce labor and environmental standards. They shouldn’t be. The provisions are as good as anything in the EU-Mexico trade agreement, for example, and Europe is renowned for having high expectations on both fronts, both domestically and internationally.

Polls show that, regardless of party, American voters are more supportive of free trade now than ever before. Democrats, Independents and Republicans converge around 80 percent in favor. Polls also show that USMCA has bipartisan backing.

The United States is part of a North American market that thrives on predictability. It’s time for Congress to unite behind USMCA and deliver predictability.

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Marc L. Busch is the Karl F. Landegger Professor of International Business Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

automation

Automation Won’t Destroy Trade – It Might Even Boost It

Alarm bells are ringing

Many industry observers are sounding alarms about the looming impact of automation, robots and 3D printing, which they fear will destroy jobsdisrupt value chains and maybe even reduce the need for international trade. Developing countries are particularly concerned because trade has been an avenue to economic development and growth for them. But a recent report released by the World Bank shows that the data and evidence don’t support the hype. Instead, automation, robots and 3D printing might actually increase trade as trade costs continue to fall.

Some business analysts have warned that automation and robots could disrupt and shorten global supply chains. The thinking behind the concern is that, if a computer can design it and a 3D printer can make it, then we won’t need to source it from countries abroad that have more abundant low-cost labor than we do. Instead, companies will drastically shorten their value chains, which could reduce international trade.

The anxieties have gotten the attention of development economists and developing countries. Trade and economic growth go hand-in-hand, both in economic theory and in practice. Multiple studies have shown that firms in developing countries that participate in global value chains outperform their local peers that solely focus on domestic markets. If robots eliminate the need for global value chains, this important avenue for economic development could be threatened.

Anxiety over automation may be overblown

Scare tactics about economic change are attractive because they get our attention. About 15 years ago, we saw headlines about “white collar outsourcing” (once attorneys were added to the list of jobs that could be moved offshore, the panic even spread into boardrooms). Some lawmakers called for restrictions on offshoring, and some of those calls are still alive today. But the mass exodus of white collar jobs did not occur.

The World Bank is a multilateral development agency that makes grants and loans to support capital projects and economic growth in the poorest countries. Anything that reduces the need for trade and global value chains would hit those developing countries hard, putting the automation concerns squarely on the World Bank’s radar.

In its annual World Development Report, the latest released on October 8, the World Bank does not take a definitive stance on the overall effects of automation, and it does not make any bold predictions. But it does make one thing clear: The anxiety over automation hindering trade is not supported by the data and evidence. In fact, the authors show that sectors with the largest increases in automation have also been those with the largest increases in trade. Yep, that’s right: We’re experiencing the opposite phenomenon to what so many are worried about.

Automation actually helping to expand trade

Specifically, the report shows that the percentage change in imports of parts from developing countries from 1995 to 2015 is higher in industries that are more automated. Agriculture and textiles are among the least-automated industries and have the smallest change. Metal, rubber and plastics, and automotive sectors have the highest rates of automation and the largest increases in trade.

Automation in industrial countries has boosted imports from developing countries

Why? Because automation, like robotic assembly and 3D printing, leads to an expansion in output and demand for material inputs. Automation can also lead to the creation of new tasks. So while it brings labor market adjustment pains — like technology and progress always do — automation will not necessarily reduce trade or shorten global value chains.

Meanwhile, investments in digital technologies continue to lower the costs of coordinating across long distances. These lower trade costs are expected to promote trade and lead to a continued expansion of global value chains, particularly for developing countries.

The big picture

Here’s the big picture: Change is the one thing in the economy you can count on. Improvements in how we make things and advanced production technologies are likely to continue, and workers and firms that adapt and embrace these changes are likely to outperform those that do not. But a wide-sweeping elimination of trade and global value chains due to automation and robots? Don’t believe the hype.

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The original version of this article was published in The Hill.

ChristineMcDaniel

Christine McDaniel a former senior economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers and deputy assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy, is a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

This article also appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

soybean

Soybean Prices are a Proxy for How the Trade War is Going

Soybeans are in your cereal, candles, crayons and car seats

Soybeans have more far uses than most of us realize. After harvesting, soybeans are dehulled and rolled into flakes as its oil is extracted. Soybean oil has become an ingredient ubiquitous in dressings, cooking oils and many foods, but is also sold for biodiesel production and other industrial uses.

Soy flours feature prominently in commercial baking. Soy hulls are part of fiber bran cereals, breads and snacks. Soybeans are even part of building materials, replacing wood in furniture, flooring and countertops. They are in carpets, auto upholstery and paints. Soybean candles are popular because they burn longer with less smoke. Soy crayons are non-toxic for children. And – because soybeans are high in protein – they are a major ingredient in livestock feed, which provides much of the impetus for globally traded soybeans.

Bean counting

Given this panoply of applications, it should be no surprise that global demand for soybeans is growing, but it’s mostly animal mouths we are feeding. Demand for soybean meal for livestock feed drives two-thirds of the export value of traded soybeans.

According to the Agricultural Market Information System, three countries produce 80 percent of the world’s soybeans to fill this demand: the United States, Brazil and Argentina.

At 123.7 million metric tons produced in 2018, U.S. farmers accounted for 34 percent of world production. Brazil’s farmers yielded 117 million metric tons, accounting for 32 percent of world production, but Brazil exported larger volumes than the United States.

Rounding out the top three, Argentina accounts for 15 percent of world production but exported just 6.3 million metric tons in 2018. China is fourth, producing 15.9 million metric tons in 2018 – just four percent of world production.

America’s second largest crop

Grown on more than 303,000 farms across the United States, soybeans are the second largest cash crop for American farmers. Conventional soybeans are grown in 45 U.S. states while high oleic soybeans are grown in 10 states. Though output varies each year, at 4.54 billion bushels in 2018, U.S. growers are so productive they can now yield twice as many bushels of soybeans as two decades ago. (At SoyConnection.com, you can click on this map to see the number of farms, acres, and bushels produced in each state.)

Three countries produce 80 percent of the world's soybean

China’s insatiable appetite

China cannot get enough soybeans. When China entered the WTO in 2001, the country was already consuming 15 percent of the world’s soybeans, driving 19 percent of global trade in soybeans. By 2018, China’s appetite had grown 815 percent according to the U.S. Farm Bureau, which says China’s demand now supports 62 percent of world trade in soybeans.

According to the Farm Bureau’s calculations, China consumes one-third of every acre harvested in the world – an amount equivalent to or more than total U.S. soybean acreage. Around 60 percent of U.S. yields were sold to China in 2017, which means there was a lot at risk for U.S. farmers caught in the crosshairs of the trade war that unfolded in 2018.

A pawn in the trade war

In July 2018, the United States fired the first tariff shot in its efforts to seek redress for the intellectual property theft cited in its Section 301 investigation into China’s practices, by imposing tariffs on $34 billion worth of China’s imports. China responded with 25 percent tariffs on an equivalent amount, including on soybeans from the United States. The tariff has remained in place as leverage in the trade war – a proxy for whether China perceives progress is being made or not in the negotiations.

In intermittent gestures of goodwill, China agrees to make purchases but has often not fulfilled orders for the promised amounts. When President Trump angrily tweeted on August 23 this year that China was not negotiating in good faith and that U.S. tariffs would cover more imports from China, China responded in part by adding five percent to its tariffs on soybeans.

A factor in price fluctuations

The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri recently offered a gloomy forecast for lower prices for soybeans: $8.43 per bushel for 2019-20, dropping further to $7.94 per bushel for the 2020-21 marketing years. They say lower prices are resulting from a combination of adverse weather, African swine fever disease that is decimating herd inventories throughout Asia and therefore weakening demand for feed – and the ongoing trade dispute.

On May 13 this year, coincident with some fiery presidential tweets expressing frustration with China, soybean prices reached a 10-year low. USDA estimates that, at 4.54 billion bushels produced last year, a drop in average price per bushel from $9.33 in 2017 to $8.60 in 2018 translates to losses for U.S. soybean farmers of $3.3 billion.

Soybean Prices react to China trade war

Bait and switching

Adding to the strain of lower prices, China has drastically pared back its soybean orders from the United States. In 2016, the United States shipped 36.1 million metric tons of soybeans to China. In 2018, sales dropped to just 8.2 million metric tons.

The Chinese government is able to avoid its own tariffs by directly purchasing U.S. soybeans which it then sells to private users in China. The government has also granted tariff exemptions to Chinese soybean crushers. Just this week, the government granted an exemption to state-owned, private and international companies to import 10 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans tariff-free. Overall, the quantities purchased through these mechanisms is not nearly enough to make up for the vast shortfall in supply from the United States.

So, China is buying more from Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Canada and in particular from Brazil, which has moved in to supply 75 percent of China’s total imports. For U.S. soybean exporters, lower prices per bushel have attracted new buyers from Europe, Mexico and elsewhere, but those sales are not enough to replace lost sales in China.

Plummeting U.S. Soybean Exports to China

Homegrown

China is hedging its bets by rejiggering the incentives it provides to its own farmers. Upon releasing a new white paper, the head of the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration said that even though China’s food production and reserves are strong, “We must hold the rice bowl firmly in our hands, and fill it with even more Chinese food.”

In addition to directly investing in agricultural infrastructure in Brazil, neighboring Russia, and other suppliers, the Chinese government has set a goal to increase domestic soybean production in five years from 16 million to 24 million metric tons, according to the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

News China reported in January that Chinese farmers in Heilongjiang, China’s main grain producing province, are being provided incentives to switch from wheat and corn to planting more soybeans. For years, the Chinese government has offered price supports for corn. Under new policies, crop rotation can earn Chinese farmers $322 per hectare in subsidies in addition to subsidies of between $373 and $430 per hectare offered by provincial authorities.

The Ministry of Science and Technology is also supporting trials of hybrid soybean seeds that are more weather-resistant and could more than triple the average yield for soybeans grown in China.

China's Soybean Journey

Long term disruptions

It’s possible the United States and China will ink a partial deal in the coming weeks that provides relief for American soybean farmers.

The American Soybean Association says it is “hopeful this ‘Phase 1’ agreement will signal a de-escalation in the ongoing U.S.-China trade war… rescinding the tariffs and helping restore certainty and stability to the soy industry.”

China has reportedly promised to purchase $40 billion to $50 billion in U.S. agricultural goods, which would be scaled up annually. That would be double the $24 billion China spent on American farm goods in 2017.

When seeds are in the ground, the acreage is committed, but as American farmers wait and watch the trade war, they are surely thinking about how to plant around these disruptions in outer growing years.

Over the last year, some reliable overseas customers are buying up stocks of U.S. soybeans that would otherwise have gone to China and some new customer relationships are being forged in emerging markets such as Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Southeast Asia.

When the tariffs are permanently removed, it will remain to be seen whether trading patterns will also have permanently shifted.

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fourteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

Japan

Japan Mini-Deal A Victory for U.S. Agriculture?

Many American farmers and ranchers breathed a sigh of relief when the United States and Japan formally signed a U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement in September. Billed as the first phase of a more comprehensive trade deal, the Agreement establishes standards to promote digital trade and provides Japanese exporters with improved market access for certain industrial products. In return, Japan agreed to slash tariffs on a wide range of food and agriculture exports – a key outcome for the U.S. agriculture community.

For U.S. agriculture producers struggling with a weak farm economy and uncertainty in global markets, implementation of the Agreement cannot come soon enough. Japan consistently ranks as one of the top export markets for agriculture and food, soaking up over $14.5 billion worth of goods in 2018. But farm groups have been ringing alarm bells ever since the United States withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would have provided them access to the Japanese market sooner.

Japan top market for U.S. beef

U.S. competitors get a head start

Walking away from the TPP meant that U.S. producers were not eligible to enjoy the tariff cuts Japan adopted under that agreement. Instead, the benefits of improved market access flowed to key U.S. competitors, including from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as those countries remained under the TPP framework. On top of that, the European Union (EU) landed its own trade deal with Japan that provided European farmers and ranchers with favorable export terms. Taken together, these various agreements put the United States at a serious disadvantage. While Japanese tariffs on foreign agricultural products continued to fall, the United States was stuck paying higher tariff rates, raising the overall cost of U.S. exports relative to competitors.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture captured this dynamic in a report it released late last year on beef exports to Japan. Without a trade agreement, U.S. beef exporters were forced to pay the “Most Favored Nation (MFN)” applied tariff rate of 38.5 percent. Not only were the tariffs paid by European beef exporters (“JAEPA” in the chart below) and by members of the TPP (“CPTPP” in the chart) considerably lower, the tariffs are scheduled to continue dropping over the next 15 years. The widening gap would render U.S. products even less attractive with each passing year.

Japan tariff reduction schedule for beef chart

U.S. strikes a “mini-deal” to catch up

Recognizing the dangers for beef and other U.S. agricultural commodities facing a similar future, the Trump Administration moved to strike a partial free trade agreement with Japan that would level the playing field for U.S. products. Stage one of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement mostly achieves that goal by lowering the tariff rates Japan applies to over 90 percent of U.S. agricultural goods, seeking to match Japan’s commitments under TPP.

However, U.S. agricultural producers are not completely out of the woods. That is because the TPP – like most modern trade agreements – included more than just tariff reductions. It also covered a broad range of regulations impacting agricultural trade including customs procedures and product safety approvals. The United States and Japan did not address these so-called “technical barriers to trade” in the first phase of their bilateral agreement.

Awaiting “stage two”

Both U.S. President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have committed to working towards a more comprehensive agreement. The Administration’s U.S.-Japan bilateral negotiating objectives outline goals for every sector of the economy. That should give hope to U.S. agriculture groups, especially rice growers and dairy producers who are still seeking improved market access to Japan. U.S. industrial goods manufacturers, many of whom are eyeing the Japanese market, will be just as eager to see a comprehensive deal in the near future.

U.S. agricultural products left out of Japan mini-deal

The obvious risk is that a comprehensive deal never materializes. The annals of history (and recent memories) are filled with examples of derailed international negotiations. A pending U.S. decision on whether to impose tariffs on Japanese automobiles and parts, for example, could easily send the trade winds blowing in another direction. In addition to disappointing U.S. business groups, failure to land a full agreement could run afoul of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, which plainly state that trade agreements must cover “substantially all trade.”

Nonetheless, after the year farmers have had, the initial U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement is still a deal worth celebrating.

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Max Moncaster is an Associate Director at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, where he focuses on trade and natural resource issues. He has served in trade policy and advocacy roles for public and private sector organizations since 2014.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

 

farmers

Yield Guarantee Program Supports Farmers While Mitigating Financial Risk

Farmers and enhancement opportunities are the primary focus of the latest partnership announced this week between Growers Edge Financial, Inc. and GROWMARK, Inc.

While some might associate the agriculture sector with outdated operations, the two companies will offer farmers an opportunity for enhancing efficiencies while maximizing profits through the Yield Guarantee Program from Grower’s Edge.

“In today’s stressed farm economy, farmers are incredibly wary of taking on more financial risk – even when taking that leap could boost profitability. They need guarantees,” said Joe Young, president and chief operating officer, Growers Edge. “Working with strategic partners like GROWMARK, we are providing the financial incentives farmers need to confidently adopt the new technologies that can ultimately drive their long-term sustainability and business success.”

Through carefully and strategically combining AI from Growers Edge’s Growers Analytic Prediction System (GAPS) and information gathered from GROWMARK’s Product Yield Trials, farmers can now rely on the predictive performance and exactly how to benefit from the technology, minus the increased risk for wasted resources and costs.

GROWMARK is committed to helping our customers grow their bottom line with new ag technologies, which makes Growers Edge an ideal partner for us,” added Lance Ruppert, director of agronomy marketing technology, GROWMARK. “The Growers Edge team is removing some of the risk and creating a new value stream for both the farmer and our technology providers. We think the yield guarantee program will help customers deploy the technologies needed to improve profitability, and we are eager to see it in action.”

To read more about how this is changing farming strategies, please visit: Growers Edge Financial or GROWMARK.

Soybeans Containerization

How Soybeans Can Save Billions in Container Repositioning

Containers are essential to the shipping and trade industry, making shipping more efficient and often faster. However, many containers are left to sit idle due to the trade imbalance in the U.S. Costing the industry billions of dollars a year, vacant containers sit empty and cause congestion at ports.

However, container repositioning offers a solution to the wasted money and time many face. By repositioning containers to back-haul with U.S. soybeans, it works to help alleviate a huge problem in global trade.

This introduces profitability when product flows back and forth and offering opportunity to US farmers. In fact, many Asian markets have shown a growing preference for containerized shipping of specific goods, such as soybeans due to the preservation it offers to fresh goods. By working to reposition containers, it offers savings as well as opportunity for U.S. farmers. Read more at https://www.ilsoy.org/.


Preserved Sweet Corn Market in the EU – Key Insights

IndexBox has just published a new report, the EU – Sweet Corn Prepared Or Preserved – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The revenue of the preserved sweet corn market in the European Union amounted to $459M in 2017, remaining relatively unchanged against the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +1.9% from 2007 to 2017; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations throughout the analyzed period.

The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2008, when the market value increased by 28% against the previous year. The level of preserved sweet corn consumption peaked at $505M in 2014; however, from 2015 to 2017, consumption failed to regain its momentum.

Production in the EU

The preserved sweet corn production amounted to 350K tonnes in 2017, growing by 2.5% against the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +2.7% over the period from 2007 to 2017; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period.

Preserved Sweet Corn Exports

Exports in the EU

In 2017, approx. 376K tonnes of sweet corn prepared or preserved were exported in the European Union; jumping by 4.7% against the previous year. The total export volume increased at an average annual rate of +2.1% over the period from 2007 to 2017; the trend pattern remained consistent, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations throughout the analyzed period.

In value terms, preserved sweet corn exports totaled $474M (IndexBox estimates) in 2017. The preserved sweet corn exports continue to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. Over the period under review, preserved sweet corn exports reached their peak figure at $582M in 2014; however, from 2015 to 2017, exports failed to regain their momentum.

Exports by Country

Hungary was the largest exporter of sweet corn prepared or preserved in the European Union, with the volume of exports resulting at 187K tonnes, which was near 50% of total exports in 2017. France (105K tonnes) took a 28% share (based on tonnes) of total exports, which put it in second place, followed by Spain (6.4%) and Belgium (5%). The following exporters – the Netherlands (9K tonnes), Germany (7.8K tonnes), Sweden (7.1K tonnes) and Italy (6.2K tonnes) each accounted for a 8% share of total exports.

From 2007 to 2017, the most notable rate of growth in terms of exports, amongst the main exporting countries, was attained by the Netherlands (+25.4% per year), while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest preserved sweet corn markets worldwide were Hungary ($198M), France ($153M) and Spain ($41M), together accounting for 83% of total exports. These countries were followed by Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Sweden, which together accounted for a further 14%.

Export Prices by Country

The preserved sweet corn export price in the European Union stood at $1.3 per kg in 2017, approximately reflecting the previous year. The the preserved sweet corn export price continues to indicate a mild shrinkage.

There were significant differences in the average export prices amongst the major exporting countries. In 2017, the country with the highest export price was Spain ($1.7 per kg), while Sweden ($890 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2017, the most notable rate of growth in terms of export prices was attained by Germany (+0.7% per year), while the other leaders experienced mixed trends in the export price figures.

Preserved Sweet Corn Imports

Imports in the EU

In 2017, approx. 384K tonnes of sweet corn prepared or preserved were imported in the European Union; growing by 6.4% against the previous year. The total import volume increased at an average annual rate of +2.0% over the period from 2007 to 2017; the trend pattern remained consistent, with only minor fluctuations being observed in certain years.

In value terms, preserved sweet corn imports stood at $470M (IndexBox estimates) in 2017. The total import value increased at an average annual rate of +1.1% over the period from 2007 to 2017; the trend pattern remained consistent, with only minor fluctuations being observed throughout the analyzed period. Over the period under review, preserved sweet corn imports attained their maximum at $562M in 2014; however, from 2015 to 2017, imports remained at a lower figure.

Imports by Country

The countries with the highest levels of preserved sweet corn imports in 2017 were Germany (75K tonnes), the UK (67K tonnes), Belgium (46K tonnes), Spain (42K tonnes), France (28K tonnes), Italy (23K tonnes), Sweden (18K tonnes), the Netherlands (17K tonnes) and Poland (16K tonnes), together accounting for 86% of total import.

From 2007 to 2017, the most notable rate of growth in terms of imports, amongst the main importing countries, was attained by Belgium (+12.7% per year), while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest preserved sweet corn markets worldwide were the UK ($88M), Germany ($86M) and Spain ($60M), together accounting for 50% of total imports. These countries were followed by Belgium, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands and Poland, which together accounted for a further 37%.

Import Prices by Country

The preserved sweet corn import price in the European Union stood at $1.2 per kg in 2017, reducing by -2.4% against the previous year. The the preserved sweet corn import price continues to indicate a slight contraction.

There were significant differences in the average import prices amongst the major importing countries. In 2017, the country with the highest import price was Sweden ($1.6 per kg), while Belgium ($888 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2017, the most notable rate of growth in terms of import prices was attained by Poland (+0.1% per year), while the other leaders experienced mixed trends in the import price figures.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

Automated Farming Solution Increases Stock Production by 20 Percent

Manual methods are becoming a thing of the past for poultry farmers implementing the CapTemp Farming Solution which provides farmers asset analytics that support impressive stock production increases.

CapTemp Farming Solution, a Portuguese company, provided one farmer with a quick, reliable solution after a recorded 20 percent loss on stock production due to lack of automated and analytics tools providing the insight he needed on farm equipment and livestock.

Once implemented, the farmer was successfully able to improve daily weight gains for improved animal growth, reduce stock mortality rate to zero, as well as reduce energy and feed costs due to better environmental conditions.

Through its partnership with market leaders in pig and poultry equipment, Equiporave Iberica, CapTemp provides farmers a sensor control system solution that collects and reports data on temperature, humidity, and gas parameters within the poultry house. Through this level of visibility, farmers are given the advantage and real-time controls.

Additionally, data logging and redundancy functions provide even more of an advantage through features such as scheduled machine usage. The automated solution also boasts features such as sensors networked to a central alarm system, operators that alert unusual conditions in real-time, and remote monitor operations.

For more information, visit: CapTemp

Source: EIN Presswire 

Blockchain

Where Have You Been? Blockchain for Tracking Goods in Trade.

Why is it so hard to track the origin of a diamond, or take longer than we’d like to trace the source of a food safety outbreak? It turns out that we’ve been tracking the supply chain in some really antiquated ways, but that’s about to change thanks to blockchain.

Origins and Travels

The “provenance” of a good refers to its origin as well as a chronological record of its ownership, location, and other important information as it moves along a supply and distribution network.

Many companies are exploring the use of blockchain technologies to help track this information much deeper into their supply chains than previously feasible. A retailer, for example, might require detailed information about materials, components, and ingredients as would manufacturers sourcing from a variety of suppliers.

Using blockchain technologies to track the origins of raw materials and follow domestic and international supply chains can also help meet the increasing demand for consumer information about globally produced goods, providing more transparency and accuracy about a product’s long journey to the store.

How Blockchain Can Help

Blockchain works to track the provenance of a good thanks to digital tokens that are issued by each participant in the supply chain to authenticate its movement. Every time the item changes hands, the token moves in lockstep. The real-world chain of custody is mirrored by a chain of transactions recorded in the blockchain.

The token acts as a virtual “certificate of authenticity” that is much harder to steal, forge or hack than a piece of paper, barcode or digital file. The records can be trusted and greatly improve the information available to assure supply-chain quality.

Blockchain technology can also make the audit process more efficient. The ledger distributes responsibility to the owners of pieces of information while ensuring verification along the way. The transactions are transparent to parties on a permission basis.

Consumers Want to Know

Surveys show that consumers in the United States and around the world are becoming more aware and interested in the origins of the merchandise they buy and the food they consume. Many also want to know how production processes of the goods they consume impact the environment and society.

The Pew Research Center found that 75 percent of Americans are “particularly concerned” for the environment, and 83 percent make an effort at least some of the time to live in ways that protect the environment. Nearly three out of four Millennials surveyed by Nielsen say they would pay extra for “sustainable” products and brands with a reputation for environmental stewardship. When it comes to food products, 71 percent of people surveyed by Label Insight said they want access to a comprehensive list of ingredients when deciding what food to buy.

Sustainable Coffee, Genuine Brand Purses and Conflict Diamonds

Retailers are concerned that brand loyalty is on the decline. But with some products, high consumer demand for product information is associated with higher expenditures, meaning people might pay more for a product they believe is ethically or sustainably sourced or manufactured. Blockchain can be used by companies to verify the claims their customers care about.

Take Starbucks, for example. Since 2004, the company has worked to support farmer livelihoods through its Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) program. In 2015, they announced that 99 percent of their coffee was “ethically sourced,” complying with a set of principles and practices at each step of the supply chain from farm to cup. Last year, they took traceability to the next level by piloting the use of blockchain to create a transparent and direct connections with tens of thousands of coffee farmers. Customers can now see up close a supplier’s sustainability practices.

Worried your designer handbag isn’t the real deal? The luxury goods industry is seeking to use blockchain to verify the authenticity of its product. Brand name shoes, dresses or purses would have specific codes that retailers and consumers could use to track changes in ownership. Given the decentralized blockchain platform and multiple authentication processes to update the ledgers, fraudulent entries will be nearly impossible. The auditable and tamper-proof records produced through blockchain technology could help combat trade in counterfeit goods, which is a $1.77 trillion problem for manufacturers according to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition.

Blockchain is a promising development for the diamond industry, which struggles to prevent so-called “conflict diamonds” from entering their value chains. A United Nations panel reportedly found that 140,000 carats of diamonds were still being smuggled out of the Central African Republic between 2013 and 2015 and traded illicitly to finance armed conflict despite an export ban. De Beers, which controls 37 percent of the global diamond market, reported earlier this year that it was able to track 100 high-value diamonds from mine to retailer using blockchain technology.

Food Safety and Quick Recalls

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that each year roughly one in six Americans, or 48 million people, becomes ill as the result of a foodborne pathogen (e.g., salmonella, listeria, or E. coli). Blockchain technology will not necessarily prevent outbreaks but could be used to track their source more quickly and prevent outbreaks from becoming epidemics. Retailers and regulators could use the distributed ledger technology for accurate and rapid information about potentially contaminated food.

Walmart is pioneering the use of blockchain to maintain easily accessible records of food provenance. In a simulated recall, The company was able to trace the origin of a bag of sliced mangoes in 2.2 seconds compared with the 6 days, 18 hours, and 26 minutes it would take using a standard approach of working with suppliers.

Australian exporter InterAgri is experimenting with using blockchain to track the production and global delivery of its Black Angus Aussie Beef. Teaming up with JD.com, a major e-commerce site in China, InterAgri aims to detect and eliminate food fraud such as counterfeit Aussie beef illegally marketed in China. By some cost estimates, food fraud affects approximately 10 percent of all commercially sold food products, creating food safety concerns for the consumer and liability issues for producers.

Coming to a Shelf Near You

In principle, blockchain could be applied to tracking provenance information for virtually any good, from agricultural commodities to luxury goods. Although blockchain technology is still not prevalent or the industry standard, more producers and retailers are exploring ways to track their own supply chains to increase quality assurance and their ability to communicate information about their products to consumers.

It will take trial and error and significant work with suppliers to ensure interoperability and efficiencies, but such experimentation will be essential if the U.S. and global economies are to realize the benefits of blockchain in international trade.

This is the first in a three-part series by Christine McDaniel for TradeVistas on how blockchain technologies will play an increasing role in international trade.

ChristineMcDaniel

Christine McDaniel a former senior economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers and deputy assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy, is a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Used with permission.

Containerized Shipping of U.S. Soybeans Spikes in Asian Countries

A recent report from the Illinois Soybean Association and the Federal Grain Inspection Service reveal containers shipping soybeans to Asian regions has spiked by 40 percent since 2014-2015.

Primarily led by Indonesian purchases, containerized shipping is experiencing an overall increase in demand for shipping U.S. soybeans to the specified region and shows no signs of slowing down. Additional information noted that container shipments of soybeans are expected to increase by 18 percent through August 31.

“Wider use of containers, thanks to the huge supply of empties in the Chicago area, has resulted in industry investments to increase the visibility and viability of this option,” said Eric Woodie, a trade analyst with the ISA checkoff program.

“There’s a major opportunity to take advantage of empty containers sitting idly in the U.S. and return them to export markets with soybeans. Not only does this help alleviate a significant problem in global trade, but it offers great value to international buyers, soybean exporters and Illinois farmers.”

Countries listed with the highest containerized soybean shipping include Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Indonesia is reported as the top buyer with a total of 1.4 million tons of soybean shipments. This method of shipping provides smaller companies the ability to minimize inventory investments while preventing lengthy delivery times, ultimately supporting added preservation.