This morning, Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), delivered a presentation to a meeting of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento, CA. Approximately 75 attendees were on hand to hear Ambassador Siddiqui speak, including the 15-member board composed of agricultural association leaders, senior state governmental representatives, and individual growers and producers.
Ambassador Siddiqui discussed key components of USTR’s 2013 trade agenda, and how they can impact California’s agriculture sector. He emphasized the critical overall role U.S. agriculture plays in boosting exports and supporting jobs here at home, and highlighted 2012’s record agricultural exports of $145 billion and agricultural trade surplus of $42 billion.
Ambassador Siddiqui went on to discuss the continuing implementation of new U.S. trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama, and their collective positive effect on California’s exports. He noted prominent California agricultural products such as wines, cherries, and almonds that will benefit as a result of the gains in market access contained in these new agreements, and detailed USTR’s ongoing efforts to create new market opportunities through the framework of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). This comprehensive, high-standard agreement seeks to create significant new export opportunities for U.S. agricultural producers.
Ambassador Siddiqui’s California itinerary also included a roundtable discussion in Sacramento with a diverse range of California-focused agricultural trade associations, boards, commissioners, and other agricultural stakeholders, which was co-hosted by the California Farm Bureau. In his discussions with stakeholders, Ambassador Siddiqui detailed U.S. efforts to reduce and eliminate barriers to agricultural trade and to level the playing field for American agricultural producers, and encouraged the participants to read USTR’s 2013 Report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures.