USA Rice held a meeting in Costa Rica with more than 40 rice industry representatives from the U.S. and the Central American Rice Federation (FECARROZ) to discuss the Central America-Dominican Republic-U.S. free trade agreement (CAFTA-DR). Collectively, the CAFTA-DR countries make up the second largest export market for U.S. rice and the United States is the largest rice supplier for the region.
“Given the close relationship between our countries, it only makes sense that we would evaluate proposals that are looking to maintain and strengthen our trade,” said Todd Burich, chair of the USA Rice Latin America Trade Policy Subcommittee.
As a further step in evaluation of CAFTA-DR, USA Rice and the U.S. Rice Producers Association (USRPA) will conduct an economic impact study to examine how U.S. and Central American farmers would be impacted by various trade scenarios including free trade and continued tariff rate quotas (TRQs). A follow-up meeting with all groups is planned for spring 2019 to discuss the preliminary results of this study.
“The rice producers of Central America and the Dominican Republic represented by FECARROZ are very happy for the alliance with USA Rice and USRPA in order to work together in the defense and development of the rice sector in our countries,” said Mario Solórzano, president of FECARROZ.
“The three organizations working as a team will push the establishment of the Agriculture Revision Commission in accordance with article 3.18 of the CAFTA-DR in order to protect the rice trade of the region.”
USA Rice also met with Indarroz, a newly formed group of rice companies in Costa Rica that represents approximately 70 percent of the market, to hear their thoughts on the CAFTA-DR.
“Leadership from the USA Rice Council and the USA Rice International Promotion Committee came here to discuss our promotions programs and plans for 2019 for the entire world, and so it was a great opportunity to also meet with the local rice industries while we were here,” said Terry Harris, chair of the USA Rice International Promotion committee. “I appreciated the opportunity to talk about the rice trade and consumption habits here in Central American countries.”