Statement on Change to Definition of ‘Agricultural Products’ in Reporting Trade Data


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WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2021 — USDA and the Department of Commerce decided in December 2020 to change the way they define “agricultural products” when reporting international trade data. Beginning with the release of the January 2021 monthly trade data on March 5, USDA will adopt the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) internationally recognized definition of “agricultural products,” which includes ethanol, distilled spirits and manufactured tobacco products, three product groups not included in the current USDA definition. The change was first announced by Commerce in the Monthly U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services (PDF, 1.5 MB) report released on Feb. 5th. The change is meant to harmonize U.S. trade reporting practices with those of the international community. It will also ensure that USDA numbers align with those of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which already uses the WTO definition when negotiating WTO binding trade agreements. As a result, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service is updating historical datasets in preparation for the March 5 change and will make data available under both definitions in its Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) database (apps.fas.usda.gov/gats).

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