The deal is worth about US$110 million annually
By Diego Flammini
American and South Korean negotiators have reached a deal on U.S. rice.
South Korea will import 132,304 metric tons of American rice annually, the USDA announced yesterday. The deal will be worth around US$110 million each year.
For comparison, Australia, China, Thailand and Vietnam share 259,396 metric tons of rice access in South Korea.
The country also agreed to purchase 20,000 metric tons of rice through global tenders, in which American rice exporters can participate.
Representatives are expected to sign the agreement next month and have it in effect in January 2020.
The U.S. exported more than 152,000 metric tons of rice to South Korea in 2017.
But having such a secured volume of exports will help the industry and its farmers prosper, said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
U.S. farmers will enjoy “the largest volume of guaranteed market access for rice in Korea that the United States has ever enjoyed,” he said in a statement. “It will prove enormously beneficial for American producers and their customers in Korea…”
The trade agreement comes after nearly five years of negotiations.
After switching to a tariff-rate quota in its World Trade Organization schedule in 2014, South Korea entered trade talks with multiple countries, including the United States, who were looking to receive preferential rice market access.
South Korea’s decided to implement an annual 408,700-ton tariff-rate quota for rice with a 5 percent duty. Any imports over that volume would be subject to a 513 percent tariff.
The U.S. allocation represents about 32 percent of South Korea’s rice imports.
“The industry and U.S. government have spent the better part of five years working to finalize this agreement with Korea, so we are pleased to see it come to fruition,” Michael Rue, chair of the USA Rice Asia Trade Policy Subcommittee, said in a statement.
Farms.com has reached out to U.S. rice producers for comment.