USDA Under Secretary for Trade Alexis Taylor back from leading a trade mission to Japan, defends the administration’s emphasis on the trips over doing market-opening free trade deals.
Taylor says trade missions like the one she led to Japan this week with 40 U.S. firms and 11 state Ag departments connect sellers and buyers, create trust, and bring sales. Taylor; “In 2022, we led five agribusiness trade missions, and the 12-month projected sales from those five trade missions was 42 million dollars.”
But the U.S.-Japan trade deal in 2019 ended or reduced tariffs on more than seven billion worth of U.S. farm goods, and with a beef safeguard deal last year, led to 14.6 billion in record agricultural sales.
Still, Taylor downplayed the importance of free trade deals; “But that, in and of itself, does not get you actual exports. So, I think that’s why we prioritize this trade mission to Japan, that’s why these types of programs are so important.”
And Taylor plans more of them; “We also are working on some upcoming missions for later this year to Chile, Malaysia and Singapore and Angola.”
Taylor like her boss, Secretary Vilsack, remains hamstrung by the White House, where President Biden is reluctant to do trade deals that aren’t widely popular outside agriculture and struggle to get through Congress.