Earlier today, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the Trump Administration had signed a proclamation that removes rice from the list of commodities afforded duty-free access under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Program.
In March, USA Rice submitted a petition to the USTR requesting the broad removal of six rice tariff lines from receiving duty-free benefits through the GSP, a program originally designed to help developing countries build new markets.
Today’s proclamation removes one of the six tariff lines, for parboiled rice imports, from eligibility for all GSP beneficiary countries, primarily impacting Argentina, Brazil, Pakistan, Paraguay, and Thailand. Additionally, India would be impacted if they eventually meet the USTR requirements to regain GSP eligibility.
The remaining five tariff lines are still eligible for use by “least developed countries” only, namely Cambodia and Myanmar. Over the last ten years, combined imports from those least developed countries averaged less than $1.5 million in annual value at a rate of roughly 1,500 MT per year.
“We are pleased to see the Administration’s recognition that U.S.-grown rice is an important, import-sensitive crop and are taking steps to remove incentives for foreign competitors to ship their rice to the U.S. by eliminating the outdated duty-free access these countries enjoyed under the GSP Program,” said USA Rice Chair Bobby Hanks.
“The flow of rice imports is still a very real concern for our domestic industry but granting our petition will help put some of those exports on a more level playing field with domestic production. We will continue to advocate for adherence to WTO commitments by our competitors who continue to over-subsidize and maintain an unfair advantage.”
USA Rice’s petition was supported through participation in virtual hearings with the USTR and the U.S. International Trade Commission, as well as broad support from the rice grower community and letters sent to the Administration by Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.
Beginning in 2021, parboiled rice previously imported duty-free under the GSP Program will now be assessed an 11.2 percent duty.