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Doubling up on a one-way street

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June U.S. exports of $150.5 billion and imports of $200.3 billion resulted in a trade deficit of $49.9 billion, the highest in nearly two years. June exports were down $2 billion from May, suggesting difficulty in reaching the Obama administration’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in the next five years.

“Russia’s refusal to resume poultry trade with the U.S. demonstrates a serious lack of commitment to the agreement reached by the two countries in June,” Lincoln said. “By creating an arbitrary trade barrier, Russia continues to hamper progress in U.S.-Russian relations.”

U.S. poultry exports were barred from entering the Russian Federation in January because of concern about the use of chlorinated water in pathogen reduction treatments in American poultry processing plants. U.S. poultry processors agreed to discontinue the use of chlorine, and Russia agreed in June to resume imports, but a new barrier has since been erected.

Over the last three years, U.S. poultry exports to Russia averaged more than $800 million in value. In Arkansas, the Russian poultry market has been worth as much as $100 million a year, contributing to 88,480 or nearly 6 percent of all jobs in the state, according to Lincoln.

And there are inequities with other trading partners. The United States last year sold $700 million worth of ag products to India. At the same time, however, India sold $1.4 billion worth of its ag products to us.

India has closed its doors to many U.S. ag products, claiming plant and animal health restrictions. U.S. exporters and trade officials, however, say many of the restrictions are not science-based. And, says a USDA official in New Delhi, India has a stated commitment to protect its 100 million small farmers.

Ag exports are vital to the U.S. economy, and farmers here have proven they can help meet the world’s growing need for food, fiber and feed.

But approaching anything near doubling up is going to require that international trade is truly a two-way street and that governments here and abroad don’t make the job more difficult than it need be.

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