U.S. Corn Exports to FTA Partners Up

U.S. corn exports to FTA partners have trended upward over the years, hence benefiting from preferential agreements. While U.S. ethanol expansion and tight supplies hindered sales from 2010/11 to 2012/13, competitive prices have both restored and expanded trade to FTA partners. Of these partners, exports to Colombia and Mexico stand out. Under the FTA with Colombia, U.S. corn is not subject to the Andean Community's Price Band System. Corn from other origins is subject to variable duties under this system, and applied when imported corn is priced lower than domestic supplies. Mexico has become the top market for U.S. yellow corn, which is used for feed, while the country’s production, primarily white corn, is used for food.

Exports to South Korea have been an exception as demand for corn was replaced by other feedstuffs including U.S. distillers’ dried grains. Brazil and Ukraine boosted exports to South Korea recently; however, U.S. corn export sales commitments to Korea have more than doubled from last year.

Over the same period, exports to non-FTA partners have trended downward partly due to biotech policies in importing countries. Before biotech issues arose in the mid-1990s, the EU was a top destination for U.S. corn. Likewise, China became a growing market in the early-2010s but banned shipments because of these issues. Some African countries have a preference for non-biotech corn.

Stagnant demand-growth (i.e., Japan and Taiwan), regional sourcing (ASEAN), and self-sufficiency policies (Indonesia and the Philippines) have also limited exports. Lastly, the emergence and strengthening of Argentine, Brazilian, and Ukrainian exports have dampened U.S. competitiveness to non-FTA countries even while global corn trade expands.

OVERVIEW

For 2017/18, global corn production is marginally lower with reductions for the EU and Canada. Prospects for lower plantings in Germany and France trimmed the EU forecast, but production is still expected higher than the previous year. Global trade is up with larger EU imports as lower domestic output and Ukraine’s and Russia’s attractive supplies support stronger demand in 2017/18. The U.S. season-average farm price is unchanged at $3.40 per bushel.

For 2016/17, global corn production is up from last month driven by record crops for both Brazil and South Africa. Global trade is minimally changed with lower imports for South Africa and smaller exports for Mexico. The U.S. season-average farm price is lowered $0.05 cents to $3.35 per bushel.

PRICES

Global corn prices are up negligibly from last month’s WASDE. Ample supplies and harvest pressure from South America have capped prices and confined global bids to a narrow range. Brazilian quotes are up $3/ton and remain the lowest at $159/ton. Argentine prices have strengthened slightly to $162/ton, while Black Sea prices are flat at $171/ton. U.S. quotes rose to $160/ton, but remain competitive compared with South American and Black Sea supplies. Since February, minor changes in global prices are reflective of intense competition and large exportable supplies.

TRADE CHANGES IN 2017/18

Selected Exporters

  • Russian corn is up 500,000 tons to 6.0 million, while Ukrainian corn is raised 500,000 tons to 20.5 million, both on expectations of stronger EU demand.

Selected Importers

  • EU corn is boosted 1.0 million tons to 15.0 million to support relatively strong feed use in the face of a smaller crop.

TRADE CHANGES IN 2016/17

Selected Exporters

  • Argentine sorghum is slashed 300,000 tons to 550,000 reflecting lackluster shipments.
  • South African corn is up 200,000 tons to 2.0 million on a record 2017 harvest. Imports are cut 200,000 tons to 1.3 million.