WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — USA Rice Federation President and Chief Executive Officer Betsy Ward and Senior Vice-President Bob Cummings met March 14 with Ambassador Islam "Isi" Siddiqui, chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The two sides discussed USA Rice's key market access objectives in the ongoing Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations within the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The negotiations entered a new phase of activity in January, and many believe that the opportunity for a WTO trade deal to succeed the Uruguay Round Agreement of 1994 will be seriously damaged if no consensus is reached this year on key areas such as agriculture, non-agriculture market access, services, and other areas.

USA Rice has been clear that any cuts to components of the U.S. farm safety net must be fully offset by visible gains in market access for rice in overseas markets. Ward and Cummings discussed key export markets for U.S. rice with Siddiqui and expressed concerns about the WTO compatibility of rice support programs in some competitor export markets.