U.S. Agricultural Exports:

Factors Affecting Competitiveness in World Markets

RCED-87-35BR: Published: Oct 9, 1986. Publicly Released: Nov 3, 1986.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO addressed the issues of: (1) declining U.S. agricultural exports; and (2) waning U.S. competitiveness in the world agricultural market. GAO defined competitiveness as the ability to sell U.S. products in the world market at a level sufficient to sustain the U.S. market share.

GAO identified a number of factors that affect U.S. agricultural competitiveness, including public policy factors, economic factors, and natural resource constraints. Public policy factors affecting competitiveness include: (1) trade and countertrade agreements, some of which inhibit trade; (2) price supports and other subsidies that increase the market price of U.S. products; (3) government organizations, especially in non-market economies, that control and restrict agricultural trade; (4) such nontariff trade barriers as quality or safety standards, or quotas; (5) levies or duties imposed to protect countries' domestic industries; (6) restrictive international credit policies; and (7) sales moratoria or embargoes. Economic factors affecting competitiveness include: (1) a decreasing U.S. edge in production and distribution costs; (2) productivity increases in other exporting countries; (3) a growing perception in other countries that U.S. products are substandard; (4) fluctuations in the growth rate of the world economy; (5) exchange rate fluctuations; and (6) world population increases, which positively affect U.S. competitiveness. Natural resource factors affecting competitiveness include: (1) increasing climatic variability across the world; and (2) the amount of arable land and available water. GAO noted that it is difficult to make trade comparisons among different countries because many countries have different accounting standards, policies, and practices.

Oct 2, 2017

Aug 24, 2017

Aug 14, 2017

May 15, 2017

May 11, 2017

Apr 28, 2017

Mar 16, 2017

Feb 13, 2017

Dec 7, 2016

Nov 28, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here