More than four decades of partnership and a free trade agreement have benefitted agribusinesses in both the United States and South Korea. But the preservation of past success must be coupled with an innovative look at the future in order for that positive trading relationship to continue in years to come, South Korea customers told a delegation of leaders and staff from the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) last week.
The leaders of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) traveled to South Korea and Mexico this week in concurrent missions to engage with customers and government officials during a period of policy uncertainty in the U.S. corn industry’s #1 and #3 markets.
Trade teams from South Korea have met face-to-face with U.S. farmers and grain suppliers in eight states in the last three months - all part of work by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) to secure and expand U.S. exports to the third largest market for U.S. corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).
A statement from the U.S. Grains Council (USGC):
"The Council strongly opposes withdrawal from the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), an action that will lead to immediate and sustained losses in sales to our third largest corn customer.
"South Korea is an example of the transformational partnership available to U.S. grain farmers and their global customers through strong trade policy and overseas market development.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced this week it would begin a reexamination of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) by formally notifying South Korea the United States will call a special joint committee meeting to discuss the trade agreement and consider changes.
Developing markets for U.S. ethanol involves a complex combination of trade policy and marketing work. Two U.S. Grains Council (USGC) activities this past week aimed to not only provide insights on ethanol policy development with a role for trade, but also exchange information with government officials, traders and even consumers about the environmental, health and economic benefits of increased ethanol use.
Recent events in foreign policy and the ongoing conversation about the value of U.S. trade agreements have put a spotlight on South Korea as a close U.S. ally and an important customer for U.S. products, including grains.
South Korea is now the fifth largest market for U.S. agricultural exports, totaling $6.2 billion in purchases in 2016. The country was the fourth largest importer of both U.S. corn and distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) as well as the seventh largest importer of U.S. barley in the 2015/2016 marketing year.
Ninety-six percent of feed millers in South Korea now include U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in their rations for the country’s livestock and poultry industries, thanks in part to work started by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) in 2004 to introduce this feed ingredient.
The U.S. Grains Council recently released its 2013/2014 U.S. Corn Harvest Quality Report, which is intended to provide reliable, timely and transparent information on the quality of U.S. corn at harvest. This is the third year the Council has generated this report and the results are highly anticipated by overseas customers. The Council has begun conveying the report's findings of record production, high quality and minor weather-related impacts, to overseas audiences, starting in Taiwan and Korea.