Donald Trump

Now that Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States, food companies are waiting to see what impact his administration will have on global trade and regulations.

From Trump’s protectionist rhetoric to his recent USDA secretary nomination, many in the global food industry look on with uncertainty. Here are some highlights from the recent just-food 2017 Confidence Survey.

Overall trends and statistics

  • Because of President Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda, 42% of respondents believe trade will become more restricted while only 16% believe Trump will improve the growth of global trade.
  • Over half of all respondents believe Trump will not affect their business, while 20% report he will negatively impact their business. Only 14% believe he will improve business by reducing regulations and introducing tax cuts.
  • Despite promises for relaxed regulation, 40% of respondents feel there will be no overall change in the level of regulation of the food sector.

Beliefs of negative impact on trade can be traced back to Trump’s campaign rhetoric and recent orders to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which he called the “worst trade deal ever” during a debate.

Not all food companies agree, though. Earlier this week, 133 companies and organizations organized under the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade sent a letter to Trump urging him to “modernize” rather than scrap NAFTA. They wrote: “In the 20 years since NAFTA was implemented, the U.S. food and agriculture industry has become increasingly efficient and innovative—growing to support millions of jobs…Although some important gaps in U.S. export access still remain, increased market access under NAFTA has been a windfall for U.S. farmers, ranchers and food processors.”

With mixed feelings on how the Trump Administration will affect the food sector, it makes sense to look at the last-minute USDA secretary nomination of Sonny Perdue, former Governor of Georgia and owner of several agricultural businesses, one of which facilitates the exporting of U.S. goods and services. Maintaining a friendlier stance on international trade and immigration, the former governor’s perspective doesn’t seem entirely aligned with Trump’s campaign promises.

Mr. Perdue was nominated last week, just days before Trump’s inauguration, and will undergo confirmation hearings to uncover additional qualifications and specific plans for the USDA.

President Trump has yet to uncover any specific food industry changes to expect under his direction nor focused heavily on the food industry during his campaign. It seems that only time will tell what kind of impact the Trump Administration will have on the food sector.

Read the full just-food 2017 Confidence Survey results.

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