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“Today’s announcement is another great testament of our determination to expand export opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers and to ensure fair trade with our international partners,” said Sonny Perdue, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) secretary. “This agreement expands opportunities for U.S. rice producers in the important Colombian market. 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.”
A previous agreement in 2012 between both countries enabled exports of U.S. 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 U.S. exporters.
The new agreement reflects the close trade ties between the United States and Colombia, and the high quality and safe rice produced by the U.S. rice industry. The agreement, combined with preferential access under the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA), will further accelerate increased U.S. exports of food and agriculture to Colombia.
“I welcome this new agreement and the expanded market access and opportunity it will afford to U.S. exporters of paddy rice,” said Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). “This outcome is a result of the administration’s efforts to enforce international trade commitments on behalf of the American people, and to deepen our bilateral ties with key trading partners, particularly allies like Colombia.”
According to the USDA, 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
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.