U.S. exports of agricultural-related machinery totaled nearly $8 billion in 2009, a 23-percent drop compared to the previous year, with the largest declines in business to Europe and South America, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). The AEM trade group consolidates U.S. Commerce Department data for off-road equipment with other sources into quarterly export trend reports.
"Our manufacturers operate in a global marketplace, and the farm equipment sector as well has been adversely affected by this worldwide recession after several years of strong export growth," stated AEM President Dennis Slater. "For example, prior to 2009, the export market for agricultural equipment had been expanding with double-digit increases since 2004. Current economic conditions, including limited access to credit, remain challenging in many countries and have led to a slowdown in business."
Slater provided additional commentary on the need for trade-friendly government policies:
"To help boost U.S. exports, it is essential that federal government policies make it easier for American companies to pursue international business, and for international buyers to more easily travel to the United States to examine and buy American products.
"AEM applauds President Obama's recent "National Export Initiative" to promote trade, which includes expanded Export-Import Bank funding for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 20 percent to 50 percent of budget.
"Many of our smaller companies increasingly rely on exports to keep their businesses operating, and we have launched a pilot program with Ex-Im Bank to guide companies through the loan-application process and maximize their export opportunities.
"AEM also welcomes the Administration's renewed focus on revamping the U.S. visa-application process. International attendance at our trade shows would be much higher if qualified buyers were not subjected to an overly complicated and seemingly arbitrary process. These are established business people, and many just give up and vow to spend their money in other countries.
"We continue to hear numerous complaints of long waiting times and denial after a superficial review. We have experienced up to a 20-percent refusal rate for our CONEXPO-CON/AGG construction show, and we estimate our recent AG CONNECT Expo agriculture show lost significant international attendance because of visa issues. For example, with one potential Indian delegation of about 80 business people, some 90 percent were denied visas."
Export Sales by Region and Top Countries Outlined
U.S. farm equipment exports to Europe totaled $2.3 billion, a 42-percent drop for 2009. Exports to South America declined 31 percent in 2009, with purchases totaling $611 million. Central America took delivery of $646 million worth of American-made agricultural equipment in 2009, a 20-percent decrease.
Asia bought $643 million worth of U.S. agricultural machinery, a 19-percent decrease, while exports to Canada remained about even with a 1-percent decrease to total $2.7 billion.
Exports to Australia/Oceania declined 2 percent and totaled $777 million, and Africa's farm equipment export purchases were $225 million, a drop of 25 percent.
The top buyers of U.S.-made farm machinery for 2009 were: (1) Canada - $2.7 billion, down 1 percent; (2) Australia - $731 million, up 6 percent; (3) Mexico - $531 million, down 15 percent; (4) Germany - $350 million, down 35 percent; (5) France - $340 million, down 14 percent; (6) United Kingdom - $250 million, down 36 percent; (7) China - $216 million, up 45 percent; (8) Belgium - $199 million, down 31 percent; (9) Brazil - $182 million, down 45 percent; (10) Netherlands - $138 million, down 37 percent; (11) South Africa - $134 million, down 14 percent; (12) Russia - $126 million, down 81 percent; (13) Japan - $118 million, down 15 percent; (14) Kazakhstan - $103 million, down 39 percent; (15) Italy - $97 million, down 12 percent. ###