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Agriculture

EU becomes world's top food exporter

The European Union has dethroned the United States as the world's top agri-food products exporter. In 2013, the 28-nation club sold food and agricultural products worth some 120 billion euros.

The EU's export growth was boosted by demand for certain commodities in China as well as in other emerging economies, according to a European Commission report on the global farming market.

Exports of cereals such as wheat and barley to Middle East and North African countries alone accounted for over two thirds of the total export gain. China continued to be one of the fastest-growing exports markets for the EU, which saw its exports share to the Asian country jump to 9.1 percent in 2013, supported mainly by the sales of malt extract for beer brewing, and pork.

At the same time, EU sales to the US, its top trade partner, witnessed only slight growth, although imports from the US increased sharply.

Trade surplus in focus

After becoming a net exporter of agri-products in 2010, the EU's trade surplus in the sector has increased steadily ever since. The rise in exports comes despite a strong euro which has hurt results across several economic sectors in Europe.

Exports to Japan, however, have notably taken a hit because of the high value of the euro against the depreciating yen.

Furthermore, the bloc retained its position as the world's biggest importer of farming and food products, buying commodities worth about 101.5 billion euros ($137 billion). However, imports in 2013 remained virtually unchanged year-on-year, thus widening the EU agricultural trade surplus to 18.6 billion euros.

Agriculture is becoming a key battleground in the ongoing free trade talks between the EU and the US and losing the top exporter status might become an added point of discord for Washington.

sri/hg (AFP, European Commission)

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