Secretary's Column: Expanding Trade with Vietnam and China


By:  Thomas Vilsack
Date: Nov. 11, 2011
Location: Unknown

Next week I will travel to Vietnam and China on behalf of USDA and our nation's farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses. I want to strengthen trade relationships we have with both nations, support the American brand, and create more opportunities for American producers to sell their goods throughout the Asia Pacific region.

This year, China moved ahead of Mexico and Canada to become our number one export market for U.S. agricultural goods. In the past decade, the Vietnamese market has also become increasingly important for our farmers, ranchers and growers -- jumping from the 50th to 15th position as a market for U.S. farm exports.

Overall, U.S. agricultural exports are on track to reach new highs this year, helping support more than one million American jobs and bolstering our nation's economy with a record trade surplus expected to exceed $42 billion.

This progress is no accident. Our farmers are the most productive in the world, and "Grown In America' products and known for their quality at an affordable price.

Under the Obama Administration, USDA has continued to expand markets for American goods abroad. We have worked aggressively to break down trade barriers to trade and assisted U.S. businesses of all sizes with the resources needed to reach consumers around the world.

Just last month, President Obama signed new trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. When implemented, they will increase farm exports by an additional $2.3 billion--supporting nearly 20,000 American jobs--by eliminating tariffs, removing barriers to trade and leveling the playing field for U.S. producers. Strong export performance means higher incomes for farmers and ranchers, more opportunities for small businesses owners, and jobs for folks who package, ship, and market agricultural products.

Moving forward, partnerships with growing markets like those in China and Vietnam are integral to maintaining strong exports for U.S. agriculture. We need to build an economy that makes, creates, innovates and exports. As we continue to strengthen American agriculture, it should be a model for improving the rest of our economy.

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