MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – The two national organizations representing their respective rice industries in the United States and Mexico agree that any renegotiation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could have serious consequences for the stable and consistent rice trade that has created jobs and benefitted consumers and farmers on both sides of the border.
During high level meetings here this week, USA Rice and the Mexican Rice Council recognized the mutual benefits achieved through free trade that support the viability of U.S. farmers and guarantees a safe, consistent, and affordable staple food product for Mexican consumers.
The 12-person USA Rice delegation met with all segments of the Mexican rice industry, including, Mexican Rice Council, farmers, millers, importers, and distributors, and there was consensus that the goals of the industries are similar – keep the market free and open and increase consumption of rice in Mexico.
Mexico remains the number one rice export market in value and volume, accounting for 20 percent of all U.S. rice exports and more than 16 percent of total U.S. long grain rice production.
USA Rice has worked for decades developing the Mexican market, and NAFTA has been central to market growth. Changing NAFTA threatens to disrupt this most important market and opens the door for rice imports from countries that heavily subsidize their rice industries, like Viet Nam.
“There’s a lot at stake here and if NAFTA goes away, we lose. Plain and simple,” said Brian King, USA Rice Chairman and the delegation leader. “The reality is, we need the Mexican market more than they need us. They’ll get their rice, one way or another. I’m interested in making certain it’s coming from the United States.”
“We’re sending a united message to President Trump that withdrawal from NAFTA, or significant revisions, would likely hurt everyone involved – particularly the rural, agricultural-based communities that quite frankly, are the ones that made him President,” said Betsy Ward, USA Rice President & CEO.
Ward added that USA Rice and the Mexican Rice Council also agreed on the importance of continuing the education process for their respective governments on the win-win that is NAFTA, rice trade between the countries, and the critical need to keep markets open.