U.S. Secures Carve-Out of Korean Market

Old man crawls across finish line at track meet
Finally made it happen
Nov 19, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that a long-sought deal was reached between the United States and Korea for U.S.-only rice import access, referred to as a country specific quota.  The agreement ensures that Korea will import a minimum of 132,304 metric tons annually, beginning January 1, 2020. While the U.S. has regularly exceeded that tonnage in exports since 2014, this additional certainty allows for long-term planning and regularity by American exporters doing business in the Korean market.  In addition to the U.S.-specific quota, Australia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam all share a combined 256,396 metric tons of Korean quota.  Korea will also solicit 20,000 metric tons of rice through global tenders, of which U.S. exporters will be eligible to submit bids.

“This agreement gives our farmers the largest volume of guaranteed market access for rice in Korea that the United States has ever enjoyed,” said Ambassador Lighthizer.  “It will prove enormously beneficial for American producers and their customers in Korea, who will enjoy access to high quality and cost competitive U.S. rice.”

Michael Rue, a California rice grower and chair of the USA Rice Asia Trade Policy Subcommittee, said, “USA Rice applauds Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary Perdue for their efforts to complete the negotiation of the country-specific quota with Korea.  The industry and U.S. government have spent the better part of five years working to finalize this agreement with Korea, so we are pleased to see it come to fruition.”

The agreement will be formally signed in mid-to-late December before going into effect next year.

It is important to note that within the U.S. quota, a portion will be required to be table rice, ensuring high quality grain is shipped to Korea.  The U.S. government and USA Rice will regularly participate in consultations with Korea to review progress, U.S. specifications, and compliance with WTO commitments.

Korea is consistently a top ten export destination for U.S.-grown rice and one of the best and highest-valued markets for our farmers, merchants, and millers.