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Washington is an important producer and exporter of agricultural products. In
2008, the State's cash receipts from farming totaled $8.1 billion. Washington
ranked 12th among all 50 States in 2008, with agricultural exports estimated at
$3.1 billion. Agricultural exports help boost farm prices and income, while
supporting about 35,907 jobs both on and off the farm in food processing,
storage, and transportation. Exports are important to Washington's agricultural
and statewide economy. Measured as exports divided by farm cash receipts, the
State's reliance on agricultural exports was 38 percent in 2008.
Washington's top agricultural exports in 2008 were:
fruits and preparations -- $1 billion
wheat and products -- $618 million
vegetables and preparations -- $606 million
live animals and meat -- $117 million
World demand for these products is increasing, but so is competition among
suppliers. If Washington State's farmers, ranchers, and food processors are to
compete successfully for opportunities of the 21st century, they need fair
trade and more open access to growing global markets.
How Trade Agreements Benefit Washington Agriculture
As the third largest fruit exporter nationwide, Washington benefits from
increased access to the Mexican market. Under the North American Free Trade
Agreement, Mexico eliminated its tariffs on fresh U.S. pears, quinces, plums,
prunes, and apricots in 1998. U.S. exports of pears and quinces to Mexico rose
from $26.6 million in 1998 to $45.8 million in 2002. Fresh plum and prune
exports to Mexico rose from $3.5 million to $5.7 million during the same period.
Total U.S. exports of pears and quinces rose from $81 million in 1998 to $100.3
million in 2002, while U.S. exports of fresh plums and prunes rose from $53.4
million to $56.4 million during the same period.
Washington, the second largest vegetable exporter among all 50 States,
benefits under the Uruguay Round as Japan, South Korea, and Thailand lower their
tariffs on sweet corn. By 2004, Thailand reduced its tariffs on canned and
frozen sweet corn to 30 and 40 percent, and Korea will reduce its tariffs on
frozen sweet corn from 60 to 54 percent. Japan reduced its tariffs on frozen
sweet corn from 12.5 percent in 1995 to 10.6 percent in 2000. Supported by lower
tariffs, U.S. canned sweet corn exports to Japan topped $52 million in 2002, up
24 percent since 1995. U.S. canned sweet corn exports to Korea hit $14 million
in 2002, up 40 percent from 1995.
Australia generally applies lower tariffs of around 5 percent on most
processed foods. If Congress ratifies the U.S. – Australian FTA in its current
form, U.S. processed foods and beverages will immediately receive duty-free
tariff treatment. From 2001 through 2003, U.S. suppliers annually shipped to
Australia on average: breads, cakes, and pastries valued at $4.6 million; soups
and broths valued at $80,000; wines valued at $1.1 million; distilled spirits
valued at $56 million; and chocolate bars valued at $1.3 million.
Export Success Stories
A joint Market Access Program (MAP) funded project between Nevada and
Washington State in April proved successful for 10 companies looking to do
business in Asia. Headed by the Washington Department of Agriculture and the
Nevada Commission on Economic Development, the group led the companies to two
additional trade missions to Malaysia and the Philippines. Organizers set
appointments for foreign buyers and American sellers as well as arranged for
educational tours of the markets. On site sales topped to $150,000 and sales for
the next 12 months are estimated at $2.1 million. The companies made excellent
contacts and received valuable insight into the market.