The Colombian government informed the United States in early February that it has begun the process of removing existing restrictions on the import of U.S. paddy rice. USA Rice was informed of this positive news by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently.
“This is tremendous news, and a success that we have worked hard to achieve,” said USA Rice Chairman Brian King, with rice merchant Erwin-Keith, Inc. in Wynne, Arkansas. “This development will allow U.S. exporters to maximize marketing opportunities under the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.”
In a letter to APHIS, the General Manager of Colombia’s counterpart organization, known as ICA, stated that the disease Tilletia horrida (rice smut) is prevalent in several rice growing areas of Colombia.
As a consequence, Colombia will begin the process of deregulation of the disease and updating of the current phytosanitary import requirements for rice seed and paddy coming from the United States. Since 2012, Colombia has restricted the import of U.S. paddy to the port of Barranquilla and requires burning of rice hulls to control the spread of T. horrida.
“We waited several years for Colombia to complete its study on the prevalence of this disease, and the results confirm what many suspected. Our task now is to encourage U.S. and Colombian officials to work quickly toward removing import restrictions on the import of U.S. rice. We understand that U.S. and Colombian plant health officials will meet later this month, and we look forward to continued progress from this session,” concluded King.
Colombia has emerged as a significant market for U.S. rice, primarily long grain milled, since the trade agreement came into effect in 2012. U.S. exports were 140,000 MT of rice in 2016, valued at $58.2 million. Import duties on U.S. rice phase out gradually, and end in 2030.
In exchange for this phase out, increasing amounts of U.S. rice enter the country duty free each year under what is called a tariff rate quota (TRQ) – 98,448 MT in 2017 – and, significantly, research activities in the six rice-producing states share the profits from auctioning access under the TRQ. In 2016, revenue to the six states exceeded $13 million.