i -ional Agricultural Trade and Policy Center
CURRENCY VALUES AND TRADE A STRONG U.S. DOLLAR
INCREASES COMPETITION FOR U.S. PRODUCERS
John J. VanSickle
PBTC 03-16 November 2003
POLICY BRIEF SERIES
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE AND POLICY CENTER
MISSION AND SCOPE: The International Agricultural Trade and Policy Center
(IATPC) was established in 1990 in the Food and Resource Economics Department
(FRED) of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of
Florida. Its mission is to provide information, education, and research directed to
immediate and long-term enhancement and sustainability of international trade and
natural resource use. Its scope includes not only trade and related policy issues, but also
agricultural, rural, resource, environmental, food, state, national and international
policies, regulations, and issues that influence trade and development.
The Center's objectives are to:
Serve as a university-wide focal point and resource base for research on
international agricultural trade and trade policy issues
Facilitate dissemination of agricultural trade related research results and
Encourage interaction between researchers, business and industry groups,
state and federal agencies, and policymakers in the examination and
discussion of agricultural trade policy questions
Provide support to initiatives that enable a better understanding of trade and
policy issues that impact the competitiveness of Florida and southeastern
agriculture specialty crops and livestock in the U.S. and international markets
Currency Values and Trade A Strong U.S. Dollar Increases Competition for U.S.
John J. VanSickle,
Professor & Director
International Agricultural Trade and Policy Center
University of Florida/ IFAS
Currency values are an important factor in determining trade between countries.
Most of the industrialized nations of the world moved to flexible exchange rates in the
mid-1970s, allowing the exchange rate on currency between countries to be driven by
relative economic values.
When you travel to a foreign country, you generally need to exchange U.S. dollars
for that country's currency. For example, if you travel to Canada, you could exchange $1
U.S. for $1.31 Canadian (October 24 exchange rates). If inflation in the U.S. and Canada
were constant and equal, and there were no barriers to trade, then a pound of beef in the
U.S. would be the same price in U.S. dollars as a pound of beef in Canada in U.S. dollars,
adjusted for transaction costs like transportation. In this example, if a pound of
hamburger cost $1 in the U.S., then the same pound of hamburger would cost $1.31
Canadian in Canada. If inflation on prices is the same in the 2 countries, then this
relationship will stay the same and exchange rates have no influence on trade. However,
changes in exchange rates can alter the economic values on goods between countries and
alter the relative values that consumers and producers realize.
Let's work with the hypothetical and assume the U.S. dollar strengthened relative
to the Canadian dollar such that $1.00 U.S. could be traded for $1.40 Canadian. Without
any change in inflation, then the price of hamburger in Canada would still be $1.31
Canadian, but could be purchased for $0.93 U.S. ($1.31 divided by the exchange rate of
1.4). A decline in the relative value of the Canadian dollar made Canadian hamburger
cheaper than U.S. prepared hamburger, until inflation adjusts the Canadian value of
hamburger relative to the U.S. dollar. In this case, if U.S. buyers were importing
Canadian beef, then the Canadian beef became even more attractive to the importer and
made it more competitive in the U.S. market. Over the long run, inflation will make the
Canadian beef price increase and eliminate the artificial advantage provided by the
devaluation. In the short run, the devaluation of the Canadian dollar could injure U.S.
producers of beef until Canadian inflation offsets that artificial advantage.
One of the larger devaluations to have impacted U.S. agriculture in recent years
was the rapid devaluation of the Mexican peso that occurred in 1995-96. The crisis that
evolved from this devaluation became known as the Tequila Crisis. The Mexican peso
devaluated by more than 50 percent in a matter of just a few short months. It had
significant impacts on consumers in Mexico who could no longer afford imported goods
that doubled in price. It also created a market situation that favored exporting products
made in Mexico instead of keeping them in Mexico to sell to their people. The resulting
impact on your market was a surge in imports of feeder cattle that depressed the market
for U.S. feeder calves.
These impacts can be even more pronounced when it is the value of the U.S.
dollar that changes relative to other currencies. An appreciation in the U.S. dollar relative
to our major trading partners can have the same type of impact that the devaluation of the
Canadian dollar had in our example. An appreciation in the value of the U.S. dollar
between 1995 and 2002 has been one of the major contributors to a weak export picture
for U.S. products.
Figure 1 shows the trade weighted exchange rates for red meat products separated
by trade with those countries that represent the major markets for red meat, those
countries that represent the major competitors to U.S. producers of red meat products in
world markets, and those countries that sell animal and products into the U.S. market.
The figure shows the appreciation in the U.S. dollar between 1995 and 2002. The dollar
appreciated in value in the major markets for U.S. red meats by nearly 45 percent,
making it harder to sell in those markets as the price of our exports increased in their
currency. The dollar appreciated nearly 80 percent relative to our competitors, making it
harder to compete against other suppliers of red meat. The dollar appreciated 35 percent
relative to countries exporting animals and animal products into the U.S., making it more
difficult to compete in our home market. It was over this period of time that U.S.
producers saw increases in imports of live animals and red meat products, and demand
for U.S. products in export markets decline. Figure 2 shows the rapid rise in imports of
animals and products that occurred with the appreciation in the value of the dollar. Import
values increased more than 50 percent while export values for animals and products
increased only 11.5 percent. The primary markets for red meat products are Northeast
Asia (Japan and South Korea). The primary competitors are Australia and Europe. The
primary U.S. suppliers are North America (Canada and Mexico) and Australia. The
appreciation in the U.S. dollar relative to these currencies made U.S. products less
competitive and helped to create more competition for our producers.
It is for these reasons that trade and policy analysts monitor exchange rates. Trade
has become an integral part of the U.S. economy, particularly in agriculture. Exports
account for almost 20 percent of U.S. agricultural production. The appreciation in the
dollar since 1995 has had impacts across all of agriculture, making it more difficult for
U.S. producers to compete in the global market. Historically, changes in the exchange
rate have accounted for about 40 percent of the change in value of U.S. agricultural
Trade in goods between countries is driven by the values of their respective
currencies relative to the cost of producing those goods in the respective countries. The
strength of the U.S. dollar is good for consumers who have access to a wider variety of
more imports at cheaper prices. It is however, harder on U.S. producers who face stiffer
competition when the dollar appreciates as it has since 1995. This trend has continued
through 2003 and shows no sign of slowing in 2004. The USDA projects the U.S. dollar
will stay strong as financial flows into the United States are attracted by well-functioning
financial markets, a relatively risk-free environment, and high expected financial returns.
Figure 1. Trade weighted exchange rates for red meats in major markets for U.S
producers, for major competitors to U.S. producers and for U.S. suppliers of
animals and products, 1970 2002.
Source: USDA Economic Research Service. http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/exchangerates/
Figure 2. Animals and products import and export values, $million, 1991 to 2002.
Source: USDA Economic Research Service. http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/exchangerates/
I I I I I I I
C 9 89~C 9198 g~hSC
. I I I
9 ~ so N9 C