Central America: Southern Tier

Map of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Market Overview

Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama have a combined population of more than 15 million people.  The majority of rice exported from the United States to this region is paddy rice.  Under the CAFTA-DR, countries must use local production before receiving import licenses; therefore, annual exports fluctuate based on local production.

Market Challenges & Opportunities 

Costa Rica has imported U.S. rough rice above the trade rate quota (TRQ) level (and thus that rice is subject to the prevailing duty); Nicaragua has not imported the full amount since 2010.  The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement implemented in 2012 has allowed the US to export a certain amount of rice duty free to Panama. The US has a logistics and freight advantage due to our close geographic proximity to this region.

USA Rice Activities

USA Rice is diligently working to rebuild and strengthen relationships with FECARROZ, the body that represents the Central American rice industry.  We are focused on trade servicing with millers and importers, as well as, addressing quality concerns from buyers by aligning consumer preferences with appropriate varieties that the U.S. can offer.