Contracts and Best Practices Seminars

We are proposing seminars at the following times and locations:

  • May 3: Kansas City, KS
  • May 7: Minneapolis MN
  • Last half 2017: Tokyo, Vancouver

Please let us know if you are interested in these proposed seminars or in attending or hosting a NAEGA Seminar! Click here for more information the in-depth, interactive programs NAEGA conducts!

U.S. Government Transition

Cabinet Nominations and Confirmations: NAEGA continues to monitor Cabinet nominations. Nominations hearings are currently ongoing. NAEGA understands the following nominations and confirmations have been made:
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Global Food Policy Report

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has released its 2017 Global Food Policy Report. The report reviews the major food policy issues, developments, and decisions of 2016, and highlights challenges and opportunities for 2017 at the global and regional levels. This year’s report looks at the impact of rapid urban growth on food security and nutrition, and considers how food systems can be reshaped to benefit both urban and rural populations.
A copy of the report can be found here.

DDGS Exports to Vietnam

The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released a copy of their report regarding the detection of live pests in consignments of dried distillers grains (DDG) to Vietnam. In a letter to the Director-General of the Vietnam Plant Protection Department (PPD), APHIS concludes that detections of live pests where almost exclusively associated with containerized cargoes and not bulk shipments. As a result, APHIS has recommended the continued fumigation of containerized DDGs with phosphine using a revised treatment scheduled that includes fumigation exposures of between 3-5 days at 7:50 pm.
A copy of APHIS’s letter to Vietnam PPD can be found here.

U.S. Food and Ag Dialogue North American Priorities

The U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, which NAEGA holds a leadership role in, has agreed on a set of North American trade priorities in anticipation of the Trump Administration declaration that it will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The U.S. Food and Ag Dialogue for Trade is an off the record broad based open forum that convenes as needed to discuss U.S. agriculture's interests in trade. The priorities document highlights policy areas and issues that a renegotiated NAFTA agreement should adopt, including enhanced regulatory coherence rules and a rapid-response mechanism (RRM).
A copy of the North American priorities document is available here.

IGTC Working Visit – Buenos Aires

International Grain Trade Coalition (IGTC) Secretariat Katy Lee is back from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she conducted her second “working visit” of the year with CIARA-CEC on March 12-26. As part of implementation of the IGTC 2016 Business Plan, Katy worked closely with IGTC member CIARA-CEC in meetings with industry and government stakeholders to promote IGTC policy files and initiatives. During her time in Buenos Aires, Katy also attended a meeting of the Codex Alimentarius regarding Low Level Presence policy. During the meeting, Katy represented IGTC policy on LLP and gathered information on national and global efforts regarding LLP. A report from Katy’s working visit will be available soon.

Asia-Pacific High-Level Dialogue – the future of regional trade agreements

Building on NAEGA’s extensive involvement and leadership in improving the terms of trade for its members,  Gary Martin attended the High Level Dialogue on Asia-Pacific Integration hosted by the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs March 13-15.  Attending the Dialogue were trade diplomats and industry representatives from the US and all of the current 11 countries that are party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement.  Also at the meeting were trade diplomats from all the Pacific Alliance countries (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru), China and South Korea.
The US withdrew from TPP in January. However, US ambassador to Chile, Carol Perez, led a strong US delegation at the meetings in Vina del Mar.  A team of 4 key staff from the Congress also joined the official US delegation. Gary worked closely with USDA FAS staff at the US Embassy staff in Santiago and had a private meeting with the US Ambassador.  He also debriefed with the Deputy Chief of Mission and US Embassy staff in Santiago before returning to the US. Gary also met with most of private sector attendees and gathered several views on how official trade relationships in the Asia Pacific region might change in the near future.
The Chilean General Directorate of International Economic Relations (DIRECON, by its abbreviation in Spanish) termed the high-level meeting with Pacific Alliance members, TPP countries, China, and South Korea as an “opportunity to address the challenges we face with creativity and conviction.”.  Most of the official delegations joined DIRECON in consistent messaging that free trade and an open economy are beneficial and positive to their countries while seeking further progress toward more inclusive trade liberalization.
Trade watchers and officials alike had been looking to the 14-15 March summit in Viña for giving some type of clarity on where the TPP may go following the US’ withdrawal from the pact, along with featuring discussions regarding other efforts at developing deeper ties within the region.
How the TPP moves forward remains an open question.  Some signatories such as Australia have advocated a “TPP minus one” approach, while others such as Malaysia have reportedly questioned whether such an option would indeed be viable given the economic loss from the US’ exit.
A joint statement released on behalf of TPP partners – minus the US – on 15 March did not confirm whether they had reached any sort of convergence on what the trade deal’s future might be. Rather, the statement refers to the partners’ “firm commitment to collaborate in keeping markets open” and raises their shared fears regarding “protectionism in many parts of the world.”
Along with referring to the trade deal’s “balanced outcome and strategic and economic significance,” the statement refers to a discussion between TPP partners on possible next steps, confirming only that senior trade officials are due to meet again ahead of a ministerial-level gathering on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade ministers’ meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam on 20-21 May.
Notably, the Chilean meeting was also set up as a gathering between TPP signatories and members of the Pacific Alliance, along with China and South Korea. The Pacific Alliance is a four-country group that includes Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. It was launched in 2012 and has since announced advances such as a tariff elimination deal.
Also during the meetings in Viña Del Mar, support for continuing talks in another regional trade initiative was evident.  The 16-country Asia-Pacific group known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which has been underway since 2012,and includes all members of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as their six FTA partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea was a common topic of discussion According to a summary issued by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the RCEP group seeks advances in discussions on intellectual property and e-commerce, along with market access and select other topics.

New Orleans Events Sunday – Wednesday March 19- 22

Thank you to all who attended our NAEGA Annual Meeting last week in New Orleans! This year’s annual meeting featured 60 NAEGA guests participating in 7 events, including a Annual Meeting, Board Meeting, Committee Meetings, a regional industry workshop and a Contracts and Best Practices Seminar. Detailed reports and minutes are forthcoming

Committee Meetings
All three NAEGA Committees met while in New Orleans, including joint committee meetings between the NAEGA Production Technology Committee and the NGFA Biotechnology Committee and the between the NAEGA Grades and Inspections Committee and the NGFA Grains, Grades and Weights Committee. Committee meetings began on March 19 with a meeting of the Contracts Committee.

Committee action highlights include:

  • The Contracts Committee nominated a new set of NAEGA approved AAA arbitrators, including two new candidates - Todd Erickson and Lucien Agniel and welcomed two new members, Paul Erickson of Providence Grain and Liz Zezima of Lansing Trade Group. The Committee also continued its drafting of NAEGA 2 Revisions.  A current draft still under committee deliberation can be found here.
  • The NAEGA Production Technology Committee met in a joint session with the NGFA Biotechnology Committee. The briefing included recent comments to APHIS on Part 340 rule making and Gary updated the committee on international developments.  Representatives from Bayer, Dupont Pioneer, Dow, Monsanto and Syngenta individually briefed on their respective product pipelines and approaches to stewardship.
  • The NAEGA Grades and Inspection Committee met in conjunction with the NGFA Grain Grades and Weights Committee. Ongoing developments in China, Vietnam and Korea were discussed along with the U.S. Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) performance concerns. The Joint committees are focused on continued improvements to the FGIS services and are looking forward to providing input into the implementation of the 2016 U.S. Grain Standards Act (USGSA) and the upcoming U.S. Farm Bill deliberations.

Annual Meeting of Members
On March 20 NAEGA held its annual members meeting. During the meeting the NAEGA Members elected a new 14-member Board of Directors. Each member will serve a one, two or three-year term. Board members elected include:
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The members also approved the meeting minutes from the last NAEGA members meeting on March 14, 2016 in Coronado, CA. A copy of the minutes can be found here.

 Amstutz Award
During the Annual Members Meeting NAEGA was pleased to present the Amstutz Award to Warren Duffy, NAEGA Senior Advisor. The Amstutz Award is given by the North American Export Grain Association in honor of Dan Amstutz and in recognition of his outstanding and extraordinary service to the export grain and oilseed trade from the United States. The President and the NAEGA Executive Committee are responsible for identifying potential recipients of the award. Warren was selected by the committee and confirmed by the Board of Directors by a unanimous vote. To commemorate the award, Warren received a bronze Bull and Bear Duality Sculpture  and his name was engraved on the Amstutz Award plaque, which resides in the NAEGA President’s office.

Board of Directors Meeting
Following the Annual Members meeting the new NAEGA Board of Directors met. During the meeting the Board reelected Steve Smalley as Chairman and appointed the following executive positions:
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The Board Members also reviewed NAEGA financials, received an update  on the IGTC, heard reports from each of the Committees and approved the minutes from their last meeting, which can be found here. The Board also voted to approve NAEGA’s contribution and participation in the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance for the next 18 months and approved the Contracts Committee list of NAEGA approved AAA Arbitrator, which can be found here.

Regional Industry Workshop
On March 21, NAEGA and NGFA held a successful Regional Industry Workshop at the Sheraton New Orleans. During the workshop, attendees from the grain trade were briefed by the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (FGIS) on issues relating to the grain trade. FGIS’s substantial presentation included an introduction from the new FGIS regional manager for New Orleans, as well as information on FGIS hiring practices and the service’s ongoing retention and retirement concerns. Following FGIS, USCG briefed attendees on vessel safety and security concerns, including cybersecurity, and APHIS informed the group of ongoing phytosanitary issues to Vietnam, Russia and China.

Contracts and Best Practices Seminar
On March 22 NAEGA finished out its week in New Orleans with a Contracts and Best Practices Seminar. In all 10 people attended the seminar to learn more about the NAEGA No. 2 Contract, get briefed on upcoming revisions to the contract, and learn important details about contract execution. NAEGA is planning a number of other contracts throughout 2017. Let us know if you are interested!

NAFTA and Asia-Pacific Policy Teams

With the evolving U.S.-China trade relationship, we expect many more fast paced and dramatic developments that could greatly change the terms of trade for NAEGA members.  Your involvement is needed!  

NAEGA ad hoc policy teams of member personnel working largely through conference calls are helping to guide our multifaceted effort to address the evolving trade environment.  A policy team focused on the Asia–Pacific Market is already established. Over the next few months the team will be focused on U.S. trade relations with China, Japan, Korea and the Trans Pacific environment more generally.

After ratification by Chad, Jordan, Oman, and Rwanda in late February, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has officially ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) following confirmation by over two-thirds of WTO members. The agreement includes measures to quicken the movement of goods during all stages of trade and calls for improved collaboration between customs and international authorities. It is estimated that the TFA will shorten average import time by almost half, and export time will see an even more significant improvement.

More information on the agreement is available here and here.