USDA’s recently released import and export trade data for July 2020 provides important insight into the continuing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on U.S. agricultural trade.
July 2020 marked the fifth consecutive month and the sixth month in 2020 that the U.S. had a negative ag trade balance. The negative balance of $596 million for July brings the total negative trade balance for the first seven months of 2020 to $3.551 billion. This balance is down sharply from January-June 2019, when the balance was negative $38 million. Going back further, January-June 2020 net ag exports are down significantly from 2016-2018. The trade balance for the first seven months for 2016, 2017 and 2018 was $3.719 billion, $7.173 billion and $5.784 billion, respectively. 2017 is an important benchmark, as it is largely regarded as the last “normal” year in agricultural trade, before the U.S. and various trade partners, including China, began exchanging retaliatory tariffs.