Costa Rica has been a longtime loyal buyer of U.S. rice, primarily in rough form, importing an annual average of 80,000 tons over the last five years. While U.S. exporters and Costa Rican millers have a strong relationship, shipments have not gone without a few challenges. In recent years there have been several shipments held up at port due to consistency issues with chemical residue testing on rough rice.
One of the main U.S. concerns was that rough rice samples, prior to processing for consumption, were being scrutinized to meet the same standards as milled rice samples. USA Rice began working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) last fall to help address the inconsistencies with their government counterparts in Costa Rica.
After several weeks of government-to-government and industry discussions, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock’s State Phytosanitary Service (similar to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or APHIS) published regulations that will help restore consistent testing of rice samples moving forward.
The new protocols require rough rice samples to be milled prior to residue testing to ensure that food safety standards are applied to the rice in the form that it’s consumed.
“USA Rice is pleased to see this type of great cooperation between the U.S. and Costa Rican governments to amicably resolve issues in a way that suits both countries,” said Todd Burich, chair of the USA Rice Latin America Trade Policy Subcommittee. “This process should serve as the model for other markets as we encounter non-tariff trade barriers. We appreciate the willingness of Costa Rica to help us find a suitable compromise and look forward to continuing the strong relationship USA Rice enjoys with those customers.”