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  September 1st, 2017 | Written by

Officials Announce Expanded Access for US Rice Exports to Colombia

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  • US-Colombia rice agreement expands access beyond the single port of Barranquilla.
  • Colombia is the 12th largest US export market for food and agricultural products.
  • US ag exports to Colombia have increased sharply since completion of trade agreement.

US Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have announced an agreement with the government of Colombia to allow for expanded market access for US exports of paddy rice.

A previous agreement in 2012 between both countries enabled exports of US paddy rice to Colombia, but under strict and costly requirements related to phytosanitary concerns. The new agreement lifts these requirements and expands access beyond the single port of Barranquilla, which was the only port previously open to US exporters.

Paddy rice, also known as “rough rice,” is the whole rice grain, along with its hulls. It is harvested directly from rice fields or paddies and transported or exported to processing facilities. As part of the processing, the protective hull is removed, leaving only the actual rice kernel for consumption. By leaving the sturdy hull on, it is possible to store the kernels for several months without incurring product losses due to spoiling or infestation.

The new agreement reflects the close trade ties between the United States and Colombia, and the high quality and safe rice produced by the US rice industry. The agreement, combined with preferential access under the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA), will further accelerate increased US exports of food and agriculture to Colombia.

“This agreement expands opportunities for US rice producers in the important Colombian market,” said Perdue. “It also underscores the value of improved relationships to solve problems, based on a solid trade agreement that benefits both parties and on a commitment to science-based rule-making.”

“This outcome is a result of the administration’s efforts to enforce international trade commitments on behalf of the American people,” said Lighthizer, “and to deepen our bilateral ties with key trading partners, particularly allies like Colombia.”

Colombia is the United States’ 12th largest export market for food and agricultural products, with exports valued at over $2.4 billion in 2016 – a sharp increase over exports prior to completion of the CTPA, when Colombia ranked as the 26th market for US food and agricultural exports in 2011, with an associated value of $1.12 billion. Exports of milled rice to Colombia have increased dramatically since entry into force of the CTPA in 2012, averaging $79 million per year compared to $3 million in 2011.

Exports of paddy rice since 2012, when the CTPA entered into force and the letter exchange provided for market access, have constituted a small but growing share of total US rice exports to Colombia, reaching $15 million in 2016. Under the new agreement on paddy rice, costly and unnecessary fumigation and processing requirements are rescinded, and access expanded to all ports of entry in Colombia.