First-quarter exports increased $64.8 million, from $337.4 million in 2013 to $402.2 million this year.
The largest increase was Mexico, $32 million, from $51.7 million to $84.1 million, followed by China, $8.3 million, from $29 million to $37.2 million; and Japan, $6.7 million, from $41 million to $47.7 million.
The increased exports to Mexico included meat, dairy products, hides, animal feed and processed foods. China’s increase consisted primarily of hide imports, with that country importing more than 50 percent of Colorado’s total hides. Japan’s increased imports were from beef, a result of its expanded market access allowed in 2013.
“Increasing exports is critical to Colorado agriculture and our rural communities,´ said John Salazar, Colorado’s commissioner of agriculture. “Colorado is pleased to have the Mexican government reduce import restrictions for Colorado and U.S. potatoes effective this month.”
After decades of restrictions, the Mexican market will expand its access for fresh potatoes beginning May 19. Colorado is the leading exporter of fresh potatoes to Mexico with more than 50 percent of the market. Last year, Colorado shipped on average seven truckloads of fresh potatoes to Mexico every day. The market is projected to grow four fold in the next few years.
“We still have access barriers for our major sectors including beef, wheat and dairy, that prevent Colorado agriculture from reaching full sales potential, ´ said Commissioner Salazar. “Increasing global access for Colorado agricultural products remains a focus of my office.”
Beef remains Colorado’s top export sector despite the fact that China does not allow U.S. beef to be imported.
The U.S. is asking Japan to revise its import duties on beef, to match the agreement obtained with the Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which requires Korea to begin to lower its import duty of beef and eventually allow import duty free of Colorado and U.S. beef to Korea.
Colorado exported more than $798 million in beef to Japan in 2013. Japan’s import duty of U.S. beef is 38.5 percent and 12.8 percent on edible beef products such as tongue and liver. Colorado could significantly grow the export of beef to Japan if the Japanese consumer did not have to pay for a price for beef that is raised because of the 38.5 percent import duty. This is not only on the cost of the product, but also the cost of the freight to get the beef to Japan.
Colorado is also working to lower import duties in Japan for wheat and dairy products.