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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 USDA releases 2005 agricultural exports forecast-

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2004 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture todayreleased its revised quarterly forecast of U.S. agricultural export salesfor fiscal year 2005. Sales are forecast to be $56 billion, down from therecord of $62.3 billion set in FY 2004. The drop in export sales is mostlydue to record U.S. crop production, which mean lower prices for grains,oilseeds and cotton, and increased foreign competition due to largersupplies all around the globe.

The FY 2005 forecast, if realized, will be the 5th highest year for U.S.agricultural exports. The record year was FY 2004, followed by 1996 at$59.9 billion, 1997 at $57.4 billion and 2003 at $56.2 billion.

Despite the current drop in sales, some product lines are making realadvances. Sales of horticulture products will reach a record $13.8billion, led by tree nut exports at $2 billion. Dairy product sales areunusually strong, and red meat sales are supported by beef sales to Mexicoand pork sales to Japan, Mexico and Canada.

NAFTA partners are expected to rank as the United States' top two markets.Canada will remain the No. 1 market for U.S. agricultural products at $9.7billion, while sales to Mexico of $8 billion are expected to surpass thoseto Japan of $7.7 billion. The European Union (EU) at $6.5 billion andChina at $4.6 billion will round out the top five markets.

Agricultural imports are forecast at $56 billion, continuing a 40-yearupward trend that will result in balanced agricultural trade in 2005. Thegrowth in value of agricultural imports since 2002 is largely the resultof higher prices of popular value-added products. The rise in food importsis rather broad based, but two-thirds of the gain in value since 2002 isin seven groups. These are essential oils (an ingredient in food andbeverage processing), snack foods, wine and beer, red meats, processedfruits and vegetables, fresh vegetables and miscellaneous groceryproducts. Key suppliers - the EU-25, Mexico, Canada, China, Indonesia,Brazil and Australia - accounted for three-quarters of the larger sales.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, theForeign Agricultural Service and the World Agricultural Outlook Boardrelease agricultural trade forecasts quarterly. The summary and fullreport of USDA's Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Exports may be accessedfrom the ERS Web site at http://www.ers.usda.gov or the FAS Web site athttp://www.fas.usda.gov. The next quarterly report will be issued inFebruary 2005.

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