Brazil Expands Market For Wheat Imports

This article has been reprinted from USDA's Nov. 28 Grain Transportation Report.

In a November 14 press release, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue welcomed Brazil’s implementation of an annual duty-free tariff rate quota (TRQ) of 750,000 metric tons (mt) of wheat imports.

Historically, most imports have originated duty-free from the Mercosur (South American trading bloc) countries of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

However, according to the United Nations Comtrade database, U.S. wheat made up 46 percent and 48 percent of Brazil’s imports, respectively, in 2013 and 2014 when Brazil opened the TRQ to allay temporary shortages of wheat within Mercosur.

Brazil’s implementation of the TRQ for wheat could affect U.S. wheat transportation demand both by increasing export volumes and shifting volumes across ports.

According to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the United States exported 9.5 mmt of wheat to Brazil between 2009 and 2018.

Of the total wheat exported to Brazil from 2009 to 2018, 6.4 mmt (67 percent) of it occurred in 2013 and 2014.

The majority of the wheat exported to Brazil during those years originated in the western Gulf of Mexico ports of Houston-Galveston, TX and Port Arthur, TX.

Those two Texas ports and the Port of New Orleans typically handle over 90 percent of wheat exports to Brazil and therefore may experience a temporary increase in transportation demand.