In his first agricultural trade mission since being confirmed in October, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs Ted McKinney visited India beginning Oct. 30 to lead a delegation of approximately 50 business, trade association and state government leaders on a five-day trade mission to New Delhi and Mumbai, India.
Seeking to grow U.S. exports to the region, the delegation met with government and industry officials, Indian companies and importers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. McKinney will end his trip with a visit to the World Food India 2017 International Summit & Expo and final meetings with government officials. McKinney said more than 465 business-to-business meetings had been scheduled after four days of the mission.
McKinney said one of the objectives of the mission was to build on existing public and private engagement with Indian partners. The timing of the mission was optimal as government officials from India and the U.S. met the week before in Washington, D.C., where several different policy and trade matters were discussed.
McKinney noted that the issue of poultry access wasn’t discussed much because it is currently tied up in a World Trade Organization dispute and moving into its final stages. He said there has been some movement by India involving food safety certificates and final steps to resume once the WTO case is resolved.
Access for U.S. pork into India is another important topic, McKinney said, adding, “I think we see a way forward there.” He noted that there are plans for a follow-up visit to inspect and understand food safety equivalency.
There has been some confusion among those in India about whether dried distillers grains (DDGs) are considered genetically modified. McKinney said the discussions appeared to show a pathway to progress.
“We know DDGs are denatured in their process. We see positive movement towards DDGs coming in,” he said.
McKinney added that India has enhanced nutritional needs for both people and animals. The country is moving closer to self-sufficiency but still has additional nutritional needs.
He said another goal of the mission was to advance the trade policy relationship with India, in addition to making new business contacts that might be beneficial for both parties.
“We had many productive meetings,” McKinney said, including two with the agriculture ministry and another with the commerce ministry.
“India is the 17th-largest export market for the U.S.,” McKinney noted. “I and everybody on the missions was very positively received and are having good and productive visits.”