U.S. and Korea Rice Technical Meetings Maintain Momentum

Group-shot of people sitting around a conference room table staring at a video screen
Meeting participants in the U.S. gather around the Zoom monitor
Nov 18, 2021
SACRAMENTO, CA – The second formal U.S.-Korea rice technical meeting was held here yesterday.  Travel restrictions in Asia once again forced the discussion to take place via video conference, similar to the industry’s other technical meetings with Japan and Taiwan.  The two groups also met virtually in 2020 after a six-year hiatus from an organized gathering.

Despite logistical challenges continuing throughout 2021, Korea remains a strong market for U.S.-grown rice.  Between 2016 and 2020, U.S. rice exports to Korea averaged $110 million in annual value.  For 2020 alone, Korea was the fifth highest export destination for U.S.-grown rice, by value, at $153 million in sales.

“We are looking forward to traveling to Seoul next year for in-person discussions with Korean officials and importers, with changing faces over the last several years, it’s imperative to build face-to-face relationships,” said Alex Balafoutis, chair of the U.S. delegation and executive vice president of Western Foods.  “We remain pleased that the country-specific agreement signed in 2019 provides for this process to bilaterally address issues.  We continued to discuss Korea’s quota schedule and tendering process, in addition to reviewing the 2021 U.S. and California rice crops and outlining maximum residue level concerns.”

In 2020, a country-specific agreement between the U.S. and Korea was first implemented, providing 132,304 metric tons (MT) of annual access for American exports to Korea.  So far for 2021, Korea has contracted for 110,304 MT of that quota, with just 22,000 MT outstanding.