Blue Diamond is optimistic concerning our global trade outlook. We believe free trade agreements are essential to the health and viability of American industries in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. According to USDA reports, almonds rank third among all U.S. agricultural production exports with 67 percent of the crop exported and with an export value in 2017 of $4.48 billion.
USDA’s decision to include almonds among a select group of commodities to receive trade-mitigation direct payments, stands as a testament to the contributions of almonds in the state, national and global economy. The mobilization of California’s almond growers was a key factor in achieving this positive outcome, demonstrating the strength and coordination of this industry. The almond community is proud of their self-reliance to produce, process, and market almonds successfully and should be equally proud of their advocacy. Growers of California almonds are now eligible to apply for direct payments of $.03 per pound as part of the $12 billion mitigation package announced by USDA in early September.
On September 24, President Trump and South Korean President Moon signed an updated U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). The modernization and continuation of this important agreement ensure that the benefits it provides to California’s almond industry will be maintained without interruption. The preferential market access provided under the KORUS agreement to Korea’s increasingly important market is of great value to California almond growers.
Also of significance to California’s almond growers, a joint statement was issued by President Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Abe on September 26 in which the two leaders agreed to enter into negotiations to establish a United States-Japan Trade Agreement. This development provides a key opening to secure tariff-free access for almonds and almond products to this critically important market. Achieving this objective is more important than ever, given Japan’s trade deals with our competitors, such as Australia and the European Union. Blue Diamond will be working hard in months ahead to help make that a reality.
Capping off a week of positive developments on the trade front, President Trump announced on October 1 that the United States, Mexico, and Canada finalized negotiations to modernize the existing NAFTA Agreement, with the new agreement to be called United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). This agreement will help facilitate the continued expansion of Blue Diamond products throughout the critically important North American market. Blue Diamond recently engaged in exciting business partnerships with Mexico to build the growth of our Almond Breeze almondmilk and our flavored snack nuts. The USMCA will provide security and support for the investment of our grower-owners into this growth market, as well as ensuring the ongoing success we have enjoyed in Canada. Blue Diamond is hopeful this new agreement will now be approved by Congress in a timely fashion.
Blue Diamond continues to encourage the President and his trade negotiators to be proactive in securing trade deals that provide new and expanded market access, enabling our growers to continue to market their almonds and deliver their benefits to the world.