Trade policy in 2019 felt like a roller coaster, but the numbers show that U.S. rice exports coasted to an increase over 2018 sales. While 2019 census data is one month short of completion, data though 11 months shows a boost over the 12-month total for 2018.
2019 trade successes came in all shapes and sizes, including:
Mexico: USA Rice executed a quality samples trip to Mexico in early 2019 and a trade mission in fall 2019, and hundreds of promotions throughout the year that have helped boost U.S. sales 15 percent over 2018 levels – this includes a 20 percent increase in rough rice sales to Mexico.
Nicaragua: Nearly 14 years since the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) was ratified, Nicaragua began purchasing significant quantities of rice from the U.S. American export sales to Nicaragua increased tenfold in 2019 over 2018 and nearly hundredfold since 2016.
Korea: After five years of advocacy and negotiations, the U.S. reached a deal for a guaranteed country specific quota for rice with Korea, ensuring competitors do not erode this important market. The deal was signed on December 30, 2019, and will ensure USA Rice and the U.S. government coordinate closely with the Korean government on tender schedules and any technical issues that may arise.
Iraq: Since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2017, there have been starts and stops to trade with Iraq, however, Iraq purchased more rice in 2019 than in any year since 2010.
China: After more than a decade of negotiating a phytosanitary protocol and several years of developing an inspection regimen for U.S. mills, 2019 saw the certification of 32 U.S. milling facilities for export to China. USA Rice hosted three trade seminars, attracting more than 100 interested rice importers, participated in two trade shows in China, organized a reverse trade mission of Chinese rice importers to the U.S., and registered the first private sale of U.S. rice in history.
In December, the Administration announced that China would begin purchasing U.S. agricultural products, such as rice, and come into compliance with World Trade Organization requirements around domestic subsidies and their tariff rate quota administration.
In December 2019, USDA revised their 2020 export projections for U.S. rice to 3.125 million tons, up from 2.78 million tons in 2018.
“USA Rice is ramping up efforts for another year of aggressive promotional activities through our USDA Market Access Program, Foreign Market Development, and Agricultural Trade Promotion Program funding,” said USA Rice vice president of international Sarah Moran. “We are looking forward to investments in new markets and exciting opportunities for additional access in 2020 through the combined efforts of the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and USA Rice.”