U.S. Rice Develops Trade Relations Amid Trade Tensions

Group of Chinese people line up to taste test rice from four rice cookers on a table
The truest test is the taste test
Aug 08, 2019
SHENZHEN, CHINA -- USA Rice hosted two trade seminars in Shanghai and Shenzhen over the last week utilizing Agricultural Trade Promotion and Emerging Markets Program funding from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).  

There were approximately 40 attendees in Shanghai and more than 70 in Shenzhen.  Even though the Trump Administration had announced new proposed tariffs on Chinese goods exported to the U.S. one day prior to the first seminar, attendance and interest ran high among the attendees.  

“While we’ve certainly spent time over the past several years getting to know the China market, these trade seminars were invaluable for introducing us to a wide range of importers all of whom are interested in U.S. rice,” said Mark Holt, from Riceland Foods, who participated.

Six U.S. exporters took advantage of the opportunity to introduce their company and products and join in a one-on-one “speed dating” event at which USA Rice provided interpreters where needed.  Rice from California and the South was taste tested at the seminar in Shanghai and at a hosted dinner in Shenzhen.

“The day after the announced tariffs, we heard credible reports that the Chinese government had contacted agricultural importers and advised them to avoid purchasing U.S. agricultural products,” said Jim Guinn, USA Rice director of Asia promotion programs, who helped coordinate both seminars.  “A number of attendees spoke about the trade tensions but it didn’t seem to temper their longer term interest in U.S. rice, especially among private importers.  However, given this setback in trade relations, the short term outlook for rice sales is not very positive in the absence of a trade deal.”