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NEWS RELEASE 98-027; APRIL 22, 1998
April 22, 1998
News Release 98-027
U.S. FERTILIZER INDUSTRY COMPETITIVE DESPITE MAJOR CHALLENGES
Despite numerous challenges, U.S. fertilizer producers appear to be competitive in foreign
markets on the basis of price, quality, and security of supply, says the U.S. International
Trade Commission (ITC) in its report Industry and Trade Summary: Fertilizers.
This competitive position held despite a protracted period of global oversupply, industry
consolidation and restructuring, increases in world fertilizer trade, and changes in
environmental protection regulations, according to the report.
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, recently released the
report as part of an ongoing series of reports on the thousands of products imported into and
exported from the United States. Following are other highlights of the report:
- The United States ranks among the top five world fertilizer producers for all major
nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur. The United States remains the
primary world producer of phosphatic fertilizers and sulfur, is second only to China
for nitrogenous fertilizer production, and ranks fifth in production of potassic
- U.S. fertilizer production is inadequate to satisfy domestic demand; therefore, imports
account for a significant share of domestic consumption. On a nutrient basis, a
significant portion of domestic demand for nitrogenous and potassic fertilizers is
satisfied by imports. However, U.S. production of phosphatic fertilizers is both
sufficient to satisfy domestic demand and to account for the majority of U.S. fertilizer
exports, while U.S. sulfur imports satisfy a relatively small share of domestic
- Producers of these products in the United States had annual production averaging
approximately $8.8 billion during 1992-96, with employment of over 37,000 persons.
Imports comprised approximately a quarter of U.S. consumption of fertilizer products
with significant quantities coming from producers in Canada, Trinidad and Tobago,
Russia, and Mexico. The top markets for U.S. exports were China, India, Australia,
Canada, and Japan with total U.S. exports representing approximately one-third of
- The primary U.S. consumers of these fertilizer products include farmers, nurseries,
golf courses, and landscapers. Consumer demand for these fertilizer products closely
parallels the condition of the U.S. farm economy. In particular, fertilizer demand is
affected from year to year by highly variable factors, such as weather conditions,
grain inventories, U.S. and foreign government agricultural policies, world economic
conditions, and world trade of fertilizers and agricultural products.
The foregoing information is from the ITC report Industry and Trade Summary: Fertilizers
(USITC Publication 3082, March 1998).
ITC Industry and Trade Summary reports include information on product uses, U.S. and
foreign producers, and tariff treatment of the products being studied; they analyze the basic
factors affecting trends in consumption, production, and trade of the commodities, as well as
factors bearing on the competitiveness of the U.S. industry in domestic and foreign markets.
This report will be available for downloading from the ITC's Internet server at
www.usitc.gov. A printed copy may be requested by calling 202-205-1809 or by
writing the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW,
Washington, DC 20436. Requests may be faxed to 202-205-2104.
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