McKinney: More than $5M in sales to Vietnam on trade mission
Companies on a trade mission to Vietnam have reported more than $5 million in sales and most companies have not yet reported, Agriculture Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney said in a telephone call to reporters from Hanoi today.
McKinney said that 14 of the 34 companies traveling with him had reported between $5.1 million and $5.2 million in sales during the 665 meetings they have held with buyers from Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar and that the other companies are supposed to report by Monday.
McKinney noted that U.S. agricultural exports to Vietnam have grown “incredibly” since 1995 when the United States reestablished diplomatic relations with Vietnam following the war.
At that time, Vietnam ranked 95th in a listing of countries importing food from the United States, and now it ranks seventh with $4.2 billion in exports. There is more potential, McKinney said, since 60% of the population of Vietnam is under 30.
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Vietnam has increased its imports of U.S. cotton to more than $1 billion per year and is using the cotton to spin yarn, McKinney said. He added that there was discussion about whether factories are moving from China to Vietnam due to the U.S.-China trade conflict, but he said the Vietnamese did not say they are adding a lot of textile finishing.
The overall U.S. relationship with Vietnam “is really, really outstanding and getting better,” he said.
The swine herd in Vietnam has been reduced by about 20% due to African swine fever, he said, but the disease does not appear to be spreading. No members of the delegation of company executives, farm leaders and state agriculture officials visited a farm in Vietnam, he said. Had they done so, they would have had to take special precautions.
The Vietnamese dairy industry is growing, with a company called Vinamilk dominating the market and importing U.S. whey, milk powder and lactose. There is an interest in protein from meat and dairy in Southeast Asia, he said.
Noting that he had recently visited Indonesia, McKinney said the Indonesians have had a “tet a tet” with the European Union and want to shift dairy imports to the United States.
McKinney said he could not elaborate on President Donald Trump’s statements that China will buy between $40 billion and $50 billion in U.S. agricultural products because he left for Vietnam the day after that announcement.
But he added, “We in agriculture look at this very, very positively.”
The trip to Vietnam was the fifth U.S. agricultural trade mission this year, he said, and there will be missions to Ghana and Mexico before the end of the year. There will be at least seven trade missions in 2020, maybe eight, he said.
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