Yesterday, 26 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed onto a letter led by rice and wheat state Members Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Tracey Mann (R-KS) to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing support for a dispute settlement case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against India’s domestic supports for rice and wheat production.
The plea to the Biden Administration runs parallel to the effort undertaken in the Senate. Last month, 18 U.S. Senators sent a similar letter (see USA Rice Daily, December 16, 2021) to Tai and Vilsack.
“This significant showing of bicameral support for the Administration to initiate a WTO case against India has been years in the making,” said Betsy Ward, president & CEO of USA Rice. “If left unchecked, the Indian export market will continue to grow at an uncontrollable rate and threaten the viability of rice and wheat producers throughout the world.”
Ward added: “Something is glaringly wrong if Indian rice, produced on the other side of the world, can be hauled hundreds of miles from inland to Indian ports, with gas prices equivalent to about $1.50 per gallon higher than ours, then shipped more than 7,000 nautical miles by boat to the U.S., and still manage to undercut our domestic prices.”
The letter states: “Trade distorting domestic support has always been a major challenge for farmers, and WTO rules were created to limit these practices. For the most part, the system has been successful, but there are repeat offenders, like China and India, where enforcement is necessary. Your teams have continually pressed India at the WTO to reform its price support program, but to no avail.”
The letter went on to say, “Considering India’s activity, we encourage you to initiate the WTO litigation process through a request for consultations.”