Despite recent slower global sales of some U.S. dairy products, USDA raised the projected value of fiscal year 2014 (FY ’14) exports considerably, according to USDA’s quarterly Ag Trade Outlook report released on Aug. 28.

FY ’14 (October 2013 through September 2014) dairy exports are now expected to hit $7.5 billion, up $700 million from the May forecast, based on strong cheese and milk powder sales to Mexico and Asian markets. USDA also provided its first forecast for FY 2015 exports, projecting U.S. dairy exports to hit $7.0 billion for a second straight year. U.S. dairy exports were valued at $6.13 billion in FY ’13.

Meanwhile, the FY ’14 U.S. dairy import forecast was left unchanged from May projections, at $3.2 billion. FY 2015 imports were also projected at $3.2 billion. The forecast for FY ’14 cheese imports was lowered slightly, to $1.2 billion, the same as FY 2015 projections. FY ’13 dairy product imports totaled $3.0 billion, with cheese at $1.1 billion.

Overall, the FY ’14 forecast for U.S. agricultural exports was raised to a record $152.5 billion, up $3.0 billion from last quarter’s forecast. Projected imports are down $1 billion, to $109.5 billion. FY 2015 agricultural exports are projected at $144.5 billion, down $8 billion from the revised $152.5 billion forecast for fiscal 2014. The declines are due to lower values of soybeans and soybean meal, and lower volumes and prices for other grains.

World economic growth is forecast to accelerate next year, rising from 2.7% in 2014 to 3.1% in 2015. Global trade is expected to expand by 4.2% in 2014 and 5.5% in 2015, driven by faster economic growth in North America and recovery, albeit slow, in Europe. A stable, but weak dollar and relatively low energy costs suggest a promising outlook for U.S. exporters in 2014 and 2015.

Agricultural exports to China are forecast down $3.0 billion from fiscal 2014, but China is expected to remain the top U.S. market for agricultural products. Exports to Russia are projected to fall $800 million to total $400 million in fiscal 2015 as a result of trade restrictions against the United States. Russia’s share of U.S. agricultural exports would decline from 0.8% in 2014 to about 0.3% in 2015.

U.S. agricultural imports are forecast at a record $117 billion in fiscal 2015, $7.5 billion higher than in fiscal 2014. Increases in import value are expected for most products in 2015, with the largest gains in horticultural products, sugar and tropical products, and livestock products. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is expected to fall by $15.5 billion in fiscal 2015, to $27.5 billion. This would be the smallest surplus since 2009.