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U.S., Colombia reach agreement on paddy rice

Agreement expands U.S. market access beyond single port.

An agreement has been reached between the United States and Colombia to allow for expanded market access for U.S. exports of paddy rice. 

A previous agreement in 2012 between both countries enabled exports of U.S. paddy rice to Colombia, but under strict and costly requirements related to phytosanitary concerns.  The new agreement lifts these requirements and expands access beyond the single port of Barranquilla, which was the only port previously open to U.S. exporters.

“This agreement expands opportunities for U.S. rice producers in the important Colombian market," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. "It also underscores the value of improved relationships to solve problems, based on a solid trade agreement that benefits both parties and on a commitment to science-based rule-making.”

“I welcome this new agreement and the expanded market access and opportunity it will afford to U.S. exporters of paddy rice," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. "This outcome is a result of the administration’s efforts to enforce international trade commitments on behalf of the American people, and to deepen our bilateral ties with key trading partners, particularly allies like Colombia.” 

“Fully opening the Colombian market to high quality U.S. rice in all forms is a top priority for U.S. rice producers,” said Dwight Roberts, USRPA President and CEO. “USRPA is especially grateful to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in addition to the U.S. Trade Representative for all the effort expended in finalizing this market opportunity for U.S. rice farmers.”

The import requirements provide that a phytosanitary certificate must accompany U.S. rice shipments declaring the shipment free of certain plant pests among other things.  There is also a fumigation treatment requirement including specific dosage and concentrations of phosphine or methyl bromide. 

Colombia is the United States’ 12th largest export market for food and agricultural products, with exports valued at over $2.4 billion in 2016 – a sharp increase over exports prior to completion of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA), when Colombia ranked as the 26th market for U.S. food and agricultural exports in 2011, with an associated value of $1.12 billion.  Exports of milled rice to Colombia have increased dramatically since entry into force of the CTPA in 2012, averaging $79 million per year compared to $3 million in 2011. 

Paddy rice, also known as “rough rice,” is the whole rice grain, along with its hulls.  It is harvested directly from rice fields or paddies and transported or exported to processing facilities.  As part of the processing, the protective hull is removed, leaving only the actual rice kernel for consumption.  By leaving the sturdy hull on, it is possible to store the kernels for several months without incurring product losses due to spoiling or infestation. 

Source: U.S. Rice Producers, U.S. Trade Representative

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