Agricultural Trade:

Significance of High-Value Products as Agricultural Exports

GGD-93-120: Published: Aug 10, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 10, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S. exports of high-value agricultural products (HVP) and the economic benefits of exporting these products, focusing on: (1) the governmentwide strategy for guiding U.S. export promotion programs; (2) U.S. and world trade statistics for HVP; (3) economic issues associated with HVP and bulk commodities exports; (4) the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) export assistance programs and services and its development of a long-term agricultural trade strategy; and (5) the top 10 agricultural exporting states' HVP export assistance.

GAO found that: (1) HVP exports have increased from 66 percent to 75 percent from 1962 to 1990; (2) U.S. HVP exports constituted about 54 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 1992, and 15.1 percent of world HVP exports in 1990; (3) the European Community's exports of HVP increased at an average annual rate of 4.7 percent compared with the 3.7 percent increase in U.S. HVP exports from 1962 to 1990; (4) economic benefits from HVP and bulk commodities exports include increased employment, personal income, and tax revenues in the farm and nonfarm sectors, but the separate benefits of each type of export have not been quantified; (5) USDA has a variety of assistance programs for buyers and sellers of U.S. agricultural products, but it has traditionally emphasized bulk commodities services; (6) USDA developed a long-term agricultural trade strategy which it submitted to Congress in January 1993; (7) the promotion of HVP exports should be based on an overall agricultural trade strategy that is part of a larger governmentwide export promotion strategy; and (8) most of the top 10 agricultural exporting states focus on promoting HVP exports and assisting small- and medium-sized businesses, but they depend on USDA attaches and trade representatives for overseas assistance because they lack the funds for more extensive programs.

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