For much of 2018, the news about U.S. agricultural trade has not been good. Undersecretary of Agriculture for Trade Ted McKinney, however, feels optimistic about the future citing several recent developments that he sees as an indication that the President’s trade policy is working. In an exclusive interview with Hoosier Ag Today, McKinney said the recently announced trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, the Korean Free Trade Agreement, and Japan’s willingness to enter into trade negotiations all bode well for the future of ag trade. He stated, “I am optimistic, but it does take a little bit of time.” He added there are about 7-10 countries that top the list of new markets for U.S. farmers.
The rhetoric between the U.S. and China has been negative and provocative. McKinney said, in reality, the relations between the U.S. and China are actually very good when it comes to agriculture, “We at USDA and the ministry in China have a pretty good relationship. It is not a hostile relationship at all. We just have to get China to say they are going to stop stealing our intellectual properties and they are going to stop forcing technology transfer.” He added that he does not expect any major breakthroughs when President Trump meets with the President of China later this month.
Longer term, McKinney says efforts are underway to develop new markets in a wide variety of nations. Many of these have not had trade agreements with the U.S., but represent growing markets. “India, for example, represents some real potential for U.S. agriculture,” he stated. McKinney has been on the move almost constantly since being confirmed last October, traveling the globe meeting with current and future customers. He leaves on Sunday for a trade mission to the Philippines and Thailand.
McKinney made his comments while attending the annual meeting of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting which is underway this week in Kansas City.