Agriculture Trade Mission to Boost US-India Cooperation

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by Emily Jones
The trade mission toured a Navi Mumbai cold storage facility. [Image: @USDAIndia]

From October 30 through November 3, 2017, a group of 50 US business, trade association, and state government leaders visited India to promote American farm and food products, develop bilateral business relationships, and address key trade policy issues.

The delegation, led by Undersecretary for US Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinnery, met with representatives of over 150 Indian companies, as well as with government officials and importers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka during the five-day visit to Mumbai and Delhi. The mission was supported by the US Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), which sponsors international trade missions to open opportunities for US exporters in markets across the globe.

Together with Department of Agriculture Commissioner for Minnesota Dave Frederickson and Department of Agriculture Commissioner for North Dakota Doug Goehring, McKinnery visited local processing facilities and discussed state-level agricultural issues.

With $24 billion of imports in 2016, India is the seventh-largest importer of agricultural products globally, and the United States is the country’s seventh-largest supplier of agricultural products. Between 2006 and 2016, US agricultural exports to India grew from $400 million to $1.3 billion, according to the USTR. In 2015, the USDA found that every $1 billion of US agricultural exports required approximately 8,000 American jobs.

Tree nuts, cotton, pulses, and fresh fruits accounted for 78% of US agricultural exports to India in 2016, according to a report published by the USDA. The United States was also India’s largest supplier of ethanol and tree nuts, with market shares of 76% and 27%, respectively.

Demand for higher-value food and agricultural products is forecast to increase as the Indian middle class expands and consumer incomes rise. This offers promising prospects for US exporters, with US exports of fresh fruit, chocolate products, fresh vegetables, and fish to India growing significantly in recent years, according to the 2016 USDA report.

In Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, imports of US agricultural products grew by $416 million and $101 million, respectively, between 2006 and 2016 according to the USTR.

As of Thursday, McKinney said that more than 465 business-to-business meetings had been scheduled and that the mission was positively received.

Emily Jones is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington.