Chart Of Note: Members of DR-CAFTA Set New Trade Records in 2015/2016

Several Latin American countries set U.S. grain import records in the 2015/2016 marketing year, according to recent data reported recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, illustrated in this Chart of Note.

Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua have reached new records of U.S. corn imported while El Salvador and Honduras have new records of U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) imported.

For the second consecutive year, U.S. exports of corn to Guatemala have set a record. In the 2014/2015 marketing year, more than 850,000 metric tons were exported to Guatemala. The new record of more than 880,000 metric tons is a 3.6 percent increase from last year.

El Salvador increased its imports of U.S. corn by 22 percent from last year. With more than 650,000 metric tons of U.S. corn exported to El Salvador, the previous record of more than 530,000, set in 2006/2007, was broken with an increased volume of 21 percent. El Salvador also had an increase of U.S. DDGS imported in the 2016 marketing year. The 2010/2011 marketing year's record of 54,000 metric tons was replaced with more than 66,000 metric tons, an increase of 34 percent.

In the 2010/2011 marketing year, Honduras reached a record level of importing U.S. corn with more than 442,000 metric tons. The new record set was of more than 549,000 metric tons, a 24 percent increase. Honduras also set a new record of U.S. DDGS imported with more than 43,000 metric tons. The previous record was set in the 2011/2012 marketing year with more than 41,000 metric tons.

Nicaragua has back-to-back records of importing U.S. corn. Last year, Nicaragua imported more than 191,000 metric tons of U.S. corn, with the volume then rising by 35 percent to more than 258,000 metric tons to set a new record.

These four countries have benefited from the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which has been in effect since 2012. This agreement liberalized trade between the United States and its other participants through the creation of tariff rate quotas and eliminating tariffs, which allow for more access to markets.

With CAFTA-DR, nearly all tariffs on U.S. agricultural products will be phased out by 2020; yellow corn has a 10-year duty phase-out in Guatemala and a 15-year duty phase-out in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Tariff rate quotas were established and grow in each market by 5 percent annually.