USA Rice Presses for Chinese Imports to Begin

Leaders from USA Rice were in China last week to deliver a simple message – nearly 30 U.S. facilities have completed China’s extensive food safety questionnaires and it’s now time for Chinese officials to schedule an inspection visit, the next step in fulfilling the promise of U.S. market access when the two countries signed a phytosanitary protocol for U.S. milled rice last July.

“Chinese officials were positive about U.S. rice throughout our meetings, but we’ve heard this before in our decade-plus effort to enter the China market,” said Brian King, USA Rice chairman and delegation leader.

“Each facility seeking to export U.S. rice to China completed a lengthy questionnaire on food safety and submitted these questionnaires to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just prior to our trip.  We were able to report this progress in our meetings and we pressed Chinese officials, and U.S. officials at the embassy in Beijing, to move quickly to schedule an inspection visit in the U.S.”

“While we met with the key players in China’s government, and public and private rice trade, and were well received, the way ahead is uncertain,” said Michael Rue, chairman of the USA Rice Asia Trade Policy Subcommittee.  “The Chinese government agency handling U.S. access, for example, continues to raise technical issues such as fumigation that delay access.”

USA Rice’s delegation made its case at a time of heightened trade tension between the two countries.  Since mid-March, both sides have increased tariffs on imports of certain products with prospects of further increases.  President Donald Trump has called for a fundamental reform of China’s Made in China 2025 national technology program, and cited China’s policies on intellectual property protection as requiring a U.S. response.

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“We believe access for U.S. rice can and should be part of the solution in trade talks between China and the United States,” said USA Rice COO Bob Cummings.  “We delivered this message in Beijing and continue to deliver it to the administration here in Washington, DC.”

Media reports indicate that Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will “soon” travel to China to discuss U.S. concerns with Chinese counterparts.

In addition to King, Rue, and Cummings, the delegation included Terry Harris, chairman of the USA Rice International Promotion Committee; Bobby Hanks, USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee chairman; and Chris Crutchfield, chairman of the USA Rice Millers’ Association Phytosanitary Task Force.


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