Representatives from the U.S. and Taiwan rice industries met for two days last month to discuss a range of technical issues influencing rice trade. The technical meeting occurs annually and is an opportunity to exchange information and discuss issues with Taiwan, whose government imports 64,634 metric tons of rice each year to meet the island’s commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The major concern on the table at this year’s meeting was the issue of grading standards. Differences in results between quality inspections in the United States and upon arrival in Taiwan have been a concern of both sides for several years, and were discussed in detail at the meeting.
“The biggest problem that we have right now is that Taiwan’s grading of U.S. rice exports is inconsistent,” said Alex Balafoutis, chairman of the U.S. delegation and vice president of the rice business unit at PGP International, Inc. “Rice is being inspected in the U.S. and everything passes and meets standards, but when it gets to Taiwan, it gets rejected. So we need to have consistent grading to make the process as transparent as possible.”
Both the U.S. and Taiwanese delegations agreed at the meeting to work toward a grading seminar where consistent, transparent grading standards can be achieved, to prevent U.S. rice exports from being turned away in the future.
The Taiwanese delegation was chaired by Chao-hsing Huang, division director for the Taiwanese Agriculture and Food Agency. Both delegations also attended a tour of the Taiwanese Agricultural Research Institute in a rural, rice-growing area, a first for the technical working group.
USA Rice supports annual technical meetings with Japan, Korea, and Taiwan – important export markets where national governments control or heavily influence rice imports – as opportunities to resolve non-policy issues and to build trust among industry segments.