May 28, 2019
SACRAMENTO, CA – Representatives of the U.S. and Taiwan rice industries plus the Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) of Taiwan met here late last week for two days of technical discussions covering rice trade between the two markets.
“This marks our fourth such meeting,” said Alex Balafoutis, executive vice president at Western Foods Co., LLC and chair of the U.S. delegation. “Taiwan is an important customer of the United States and we use these meetings to work through issues concerning inspection, grading, and tendering in order to increase understanding on both sides and improve market efficiency.”
Topics for this year’s meeting focused on an exchange of information on this year’s rice production and utilization; changes in AFA’s penalty structure for rice that does not meet contract specifications; an extensive discussion of Taiwan’s quality specifications and a review by the U.S. side of USDA/AMS line samples; a discussion of the distinction between milling yield versus degree of milling; and a review of Taiwan’s rice export promotion program including the acquisition and release price of storage rice for export.
Both sides agreed to meet again in 2020 in Taiwan. Chao-hsing Huang of AFA and the Taiwan chair, concluded that “The meeting was very meaningful, and (the) gaps in understanding are becoming shorter and shorter.”
Taiwan began importing rice from the Unites States when the island joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2007. Taiwan currently has a country specific import quota for U.S. rice of 64,634 MT within an overall annual import quota from all WTO members of 144,720 MT. Taiwan consumes medium grain rice, and purchases from the United States, especially those made by the Taiwan government via AFA, are primarily of brown rice from the mid-South.
The United States exported 47,404 MT of rice to Taiwan in 2018 valued at $30.7 million. While Taiwan’s import commitment is on a calendar year, shipments increasingly cross into the next year. Taiwan has completed required tenders for calendar 2018.