U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Trade Ted McKinney led a trade mission July 16-19 and was joined by U.S. business and state government leaders seeking to expand agricultural export opportunities in Southeast Asia.  McKinney’s trade mission included stops in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

McKinney, in a media call, attributed the strong pace of trade missions to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s keen understanding of the importance of trade.

In Indonesia, McKinney reported that there were 250-plus business-to-business meetings with individuals from medium to small-sized companies as well as from commodity groups like the U.S. Soybean Export Council, U.S. Meat Export Federation, U.S. Grains Council, and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

“USDA trade missions are an incredible opportunity for companies looking to branch out into new markets,” McKinney said. “Participants have the chance to forge personal relationships with potential customers and learn firsthand about the ins and outs of doing business in those markets.”

Although McKinney is not in a position to negotiate bilateral free trade agreemetns, he said when the U.S. Trade Representative is ready to move ahead with a bilateral deal with Indonesia, it would be viewed as positive for U.S. agriculture.

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are experiencing growing economies, increasing middle-class populations and continuing urbanization, which are all factors contributing to favorable conditions for U.S. export expansion.

Southeast Asia is a major market for U.S. agricultural products, ranking as the third-largest regional market in 2017, behind East Asia and North America.  U.S. exports to Southeast Asia have grown quickly over the last decade, with sales of farm and food products totaling nearly $11.8 billion in 2017, representing a 68-percent increase since 2008.  With a collective population of more than 641 million people and agricultural imports exceeding $91 billion a year,  Southeast Asia remains a substantial market for U.S. agricultural exports.