SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — COVID-19 related issues have slowed down South Korea’s rice bidding process and purchase of US rice, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

As part of South Korea’s tariff rate quota (TRQ) purchasing plan, the country will buy 408,700 tonnes of milled rice. South Korea has a country-specific quota for five rice exporters:

  • United States: 132,304 tonnes
  • China: 157,195 tonnes
  • Vietnam: 55,112 tonnes
  • Thailand: 28,494 tonns 
  • Australia: 15,595 tonnes

So far South Korea has purchased 205,106 tonnes, about 50% of the total 2021 TRQ. The USDA noted, actual delivery for the remainder of the TRQ is expected to occur in the first half of 2022.

But as of June 2021, the bidding process has been slowed due to COVID-19 issues. The USDA estimates that the United States has sold about 31%, or 41,500 tonnes, of milled rice to South Korea.

The Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT) plans to hold buying tenders targeting the new crop of US medium rice to be delivered in the first half of 2022 to fulfill 2021 TRQ.

The USDA’s 2021-22 marketing year projections for South Korea’s rice production, consumption and imports remain unchanged from the previous April GAIN 2021 report:

  • Production: 3.8 million tonnes
  • Consumption: 3.84 million tonnes
  • Imports: 410,000 tonnes