In an effort to strategically open offices with burgeoning opportunities for potential market access, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) plans to expand in the Middle East and Africa but will scale back some of its offices and efforts in the Western Hemisphere.
“Our mission to support U.S. agriculture and industry includes aligning our presence and resources to maintain current markets, increase agricultural trade and cultivate emerging markets for animal and plant products,” a notice from the agency said.
To start with, APHIS International Services will transition to expand the agency's mission in the Middle East and Africa. APHIS is working with the U.S. Department of State and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to identify other potential office locations in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman), and in east and west Africa -- two areas of strategic importance in agricultural growth markets.
APHIS said it will also reopen its Cairo, Egypt, office in January 2021, placing two American officers at the U.S. Embassy. “We are also exploring opportunities to assist the International Plant Protection Convention and will station a foreign service officer in Rome [Italy] as soon as practical to support their mission to develop international standards that affect trade in plant commodities,” APHIS said in a notice..
In the Western Hemisphere, APHIS International Services will relocate foreign service officers to larger regional offices to provide continued coverage to Haiti, Ecuador, Uruguay, Bolivia and Costa Rica. These countries will no longer have an American-led APHIS office, but they will continue to be covered by APHIS foreign service officers in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
Offices in Ecuador, Haiti and Uruguay have already closed. In Bolivia and Costa Rica, APHIS said it will scale down staffing and transition activities to other locations over the next two years.