USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor recently led a trade mission to southeast Asia. The trip included stops in Malaysia and Singapore. Taylor says it was a productive trip for everyone involved.
“One of the things I wanted to highlight, I think, this morning is just the quality of meetings,” according to Taylor. “I know our business has had this week. We’ve had over 300 business-to-business meetings, but I think more impactful is the quality of those meetings and the interest of the buyers that I heard from our businesses about. In Southeast Asia, one of the reasons we focus trade missions here or continue to focus some of our trade missions here is the population dynamics that we are seeing. They have a growing middle class.”
She says demand remains strong for American commodities; “There is a strong connection to the United States and a preference for U.S. food and agricultural products. There’s a lot of trust in our quality, safety, and reliability as a trading partner, which makes this a very attractive set of markets.”
California Ag Secretary Karen Ross was on the trip and says Southeast Asia is an important market for her state’s farmers. “Southeast Asia is tremendously important for the California products that we like to export to this part of the country. It was about two-and-a-half-billion dollars last year. Dairy is the leading commodity that we’re very proud of, and I’ve seen evidence of the California Milk Advisory Board all over the place in addition to the U.S. Dairy Export Council, which has a fabulous innovation center that shows their commitment to the market, and that’s one of the things that we heard. Fresh fruits, especially citrus, grapes, and berries are products that we’ve seen on the shelves, as well as tree nuts. And we have the walnut commission with us, which was very important for a commodity that’s been struggling the last couple of years.”