Rice: Exports to Colombia Exceeded 2020 Expectations, See Rocky Start in 2021

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    U.S. rice imports here have been growing for many years. The 2012 U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) ushered in a tariff rate quota (TRQ) of duty-free U.S. rice which positioned Colombia as a top ten export market. Access to the U.S. TRQ has historically been provided through three annual auctions that award import certificates.

    U.S. rice exports to Colombia in 2020 increased by 12 percent over 2019 levels, due in large part to a surge in consumer purchase as Colombia announced strict pandemic restrictions.

    However, in the latter half of the year, demand started to normalize as the national harvest began, which exceeded production expectations, reaching a total of 590,000 hectares (more than 1.4 million acres); the value of the Colombian rice crop was reportedly a record figure.

    In a December radio interview, the general manager of Fedearroz, Colombia’s National Federation of Rice Growers, noted that the rice sector had a good 2020 crop year with decent yields and favorable weather. Also in 2020, a supply chain agreement was made between the Ministry of Agriculture, millers, and producers on incentives for storing and handling the harvest.

    The first auction in 2021 was held in January and for the first time in the history of the TPA, it was undersubscribed with only 8 percent of the tonnage awarded.

    “Because of the unprecedented outcome of this auction, it is important that any unawarded quota be rolled forward to future auctions held this calendar year, to remain available for use by exporters within this calendar year,” said USA Rice Chair Bobby Hanks in a letter sent this week to the COL-RICE Board of Directors on behalf of USA Rice.

    “While COL-RICE is authorized to set parameters regarding auction frequency and tonnage, the TPA is clear that the increasing annual quota tonnage is to be available throughout the entire calendar year.”

    To date, the U.S. and Colombian rice industries each have received $86 million to further rice research and development in our respective countries.

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