U.S. Efforts to Increase Exports of High Value Agricultural Products

T-NSIAD-91-43: Published: Jun 25, 1991. Publicly Released: Jun 25, 1991.

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GAO compared the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) approach to high-value product marketing with the approaches taken by its major competitors. GAO noted that: (1) although most foreign competitors spent less on high-value market development than the United States, they received a greater return on their marketing investment, by spending their funds in a highly targeted manner and using an integrated marketing approach; (2) some foreign competitors had more experience in marketing high-value products than the United States, enabling them to develop specific marketing plans based on overall market conditions and opportunities; (3) some U.S. producers were resistant to adapting their product for a specific foreign market, and lacked commitment to nurturing foreign markets; (4) the governments of foreign competitors performed less oversight of export program operations due to their organizational structure and the relationship between the public and private sectors; (5) USDA agencies differed sharply in their missions, management approaches, and preparedness for working in a market-oriented economy; (6) the Foreign Agricultural Service modified its hiring program to improve its marketing and management skills, but failed to address the training needs of its existing staff; and (7) the lack of coordination among USDA components could result in unclear marketing strategies, outdated marketing information, duplicated efforts, and poor service to its clients.

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