Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade

FY 2019 U.S. Agricultural Exports Forecast
Remains at $141.5 Billion; Imports Rise to $128.0 Billion

Fiscal year 2019 agricultural exports are projected at $141.5 billion, unchanged from the November forecast as decreases in grain and oilseed exports are offset by higher livestock and dairy exports. Grain and feed exports are forecast down $100 million to $33.7 billion. Oilseeds and products exports are projected at $27.8 billion, down $100 million from November expectations, driven by lower soybean volumes. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are raised $300 million from the November forecast to $30.4 billion, largely as gains in beef, pork, poultry, dairy, and other products offset declines for hides, skins, and furs. Cotton is forecast unchanged from November at $5.9 billion. Horticultural product exports are unchanged at $35.3 billion.

U.S. agricultural imports in fiscal year 2019 are forecast at $128.0 billion, up $1.0 billion from the November forecast. This increase is led by horticultural products, livestock and meats, and grains and feed imports. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is forecast at $13.5 billion, down $1.0 billion from the November forecast.

Economic Outlook

U.S. outlook positive while trade woes slow global economic growth
Per capita world GDP growth of 1.9 percent in 2018 is the strongest since the post-financial crisis rebound in 2010-11. World GDP growth is expected to slow slightly to 1.6 percent in 2019, due in part to global trade tensions, but there is some optimism regarding future dialogue between China and the United States. There is more uncertainty than normal regarding U.S. economic conditions due to a lag in the release of economic indicators after the Government shutdown, such as U.S. Gross Domestic Product for the fourth quarter and U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services for December 2018. However, U.S. per capita GDP was estimated to have grown at above trend at 2.2 percent in 2018 and is forecast to remain the same in 2019, with continued optimism regarding the current economic landscape, especially given the strong labor market and low inflation.

Oil prices are expected to decrease in 2019, due in part to oil stocks that are expected to continue to grow into 2020 as U.S. production expands. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that crude oil prices in the U.S. will drop from $65.06 in 2018 to $54.79 in 2019, while Brent crude spot prices are expected to drop from $71.19 to $61.03. Oil prices are forecast lower despite relatively optimistic expectations for U.S. economic activity. Across North America, per capita growth reached 1.8 percent in 2018 but is expected to slow to1.4 percent in 2019. A strong labor market is expected to be a recurring theme in North America, with Mexico and Canada forecast to have relatively low unemployment rates of 3.7 and 5.9 percent in 2019, respectively. Mexico’s per capita GDP is also expected to grow 2.0 percent in 2019, while Canada’s is expected at 1.4 percent. Conditions across North America are partially dependent on the fate of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

A slight slowdown in per capita GDP growth is expected for the Asia and Oceania regions. Growth in Asia is expected to slow to 3.6 percent in 2019 from an estimated 3.8 percent in 2018, due in part to weakening economic conditions in China. China’s growth is expected to decline from 6.2 percent in 2018 to 5.8 percent in 2019, due to slowing international trade, a softening real estate market, and weaker domestic demand. Australia saw 1.3 percent growth in 2018 and expects growth to decrease to 1.0 percent in 2019. In Japan, however, GDP is expected to increase from 1.0 percent in 2018 to 1.2 percent growth in 2019, fueled by domestic consumption.

Per capita growth in the Eurozone is hampered by a slowdown in global trade. The region expects export annual percentage growth to decrease to 2.8 percent for 2018, but exports will rebound to 3.3 percent in 2019. Real per capita GDP growth is expected to fall to 1.6 percent in 2019 from 1.9 percent in 2018. The Eurozone is also threatened by spillover effects of heavy Italian debt and the threat of a no-deal Brexit.

Latin America continues to rebound from the recession that resulted in falling per capita income in 2015 and 2016. Per capita GDP growth in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to increase from 0.1 percent in 2018 to 0.7 percent in 2019. In 2019 Brazil’s per capita GDP growth rate is expected to reach 1.6 percent, up from only 0.5 percent in 2018. Recessionary conditions continue in Argentina, where per capita GDP is expected to contract 2.5 percent and unemployment is expected to peak at 10.1 percent. Venezuela also faces a continuation of its severe recession into 2019, due in part to low oil revenue, political instability, and external debt concerns.


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