At the U.S. Grains Council's 10th International Marketing Conference and 53rd Annual Membership Meeting in Charleston, S.C., Feb. 11-13, 2013, attendees will enjoy the opportunity to hear how the Council's mission of Developing Markets, Enabling Trade and Improving Lives is achieved. Dr. Hussein Soliman, USGC director in Egypt, will provide a unique glimpse at the work he has done and some challenges he has faced during his more than 20 year tenure promoting U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and co-products. Those challenges have never been more acute than they are today, with immense political upheaval and rising competition from the Black Sea region now threatening a hard-won U.S. market in Egypt.
Dr. Soliman is just one example of what each of our international directors strive to accomplish in every region. Through the USDA's export promotion programs, including the Market Assessment Program and Foreign Market Development program, USGC directors are able to ensure foreign markets are aware of the high quality agricultural commodities the United States provides and work to expand exports to new markets.
During Dr. Soliman's tenure and due in large part to his efforts, Egypt became one of the top destinations for U.S. corn and corn gluten meal. Throughout his time at USGC, Dr. Soliman has also been successful advocating for changes on the policy front to promote imports of distiller's dried grains with solubles and corn gluten meal across Egypt. He also established a revolving credit fund, the Cattleman's Bank, which facilitated the construction of over 400 commercial feedlots, increasing imports of corn and co-products over the years. Additionally, he was instrumental in the early world debate over biotechnology, educating Egyptian leaders about its benefits and convincing them to not adopt European Union restrictions. But the one certainty in international markets is change: the recent political unrest in Egypt, a new government, and a surge in imports from regional producers in the Black Sea region pose major new challenges in the years ahead.