Foreign Market Development
January 09, 2004
Mexico was the focus of intense market development work this year. For more than two months, Mexico defied the North American Free Trade Agreement and blocked imports of U.S. dry beans. They first cited phytosanitary reasons for shutting off imports. Mexico lifted the ban after the dry bean industry convinced top officials in Congress, USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative office to press the issue with their counterparts in Mexico's government.
Food aid programs also received a great deal of attention. Locally, the Northarvest Bean Growers Association provided navy beans for a North Dakota churchÕs food aid program for Iraq. Internationally, the Growers Association also supported a National Dry Bean Council (NDBC) trade mission to Africa. Industry representatives met with government agencies and private volunteer organizations involved in ordering and distributing food in drought-stricken and AIDS-ravaged countries.
Negotiations with Cuba produced more sales of dry beans in 2003. Dry beans ranked among the top 10 commodities that Cuba has purchased since the resumption of limited trade in agricultural and other products.
The Northarvest Bean Growers Association also continued servicing and monitoring several existing markets in 2003. In addition, it investigated opportunities for new markets. Market development activities occurred in Algeria, Ethiopia, Italy, Poland and several other Eastern European countries.