USA Rice Chair On-Hand for Signing of China Trade Deal, Phase One

Man and woman dressed in business clothes stand outside in White House security line
Charley Mathews, Jr., and Betsy Ward outside the White House
Jan 15, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – After nearly two years of feuding, beginning with U.S. duties placed on Chinese washing machines in February 2018, President Trump signed a historic “Phase One” pact here this morning with China’s Vice Premier Liu He.
The agreement in principle was reached by negotiators in December and the 86-page text has since been drafted to outline the majority, but not all, of the elements of the bilateral accord.  

According to a summary of the agreement provided by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), China will purchase and import on average at least $40 billion of U.S. food, agricultural, and seafood products annually for a total of at least $80 billion over the next two years. In the same summary, USTR references a USDA estimate that rice exports alone could be valued at $300 million annually.

There was other good news for rice in the agreement.  Following two losses in the World Trade Organization (WTO) courts on how they administer their tariff rate quotas (TRQ) and for exceeding subsidy limits, China has agreed to come to the table with changes to their commodity procurement and excess subsidies.  China has openly shared that they will come into compliance with WTO requirements through the fulfillment of targeted purchase quantities, beginning in 2020.  

Additionally, USTR fulfilled a longtime USA Rice ask related to Chinese National Standards for rice.  USTR’s summary states that China adjusted their internal standards to re-classify U.S. medium grain rice from long grain to short/medium grain to allow for fair competition in the comparable Chinese markets.
Some purchase logistics are still unknown but more details will likely be shared by U.S. and Chinese governments in the coming days.
“USA Rice was thrilled to be invited to today’s signing of Phase One of the new trade agreement with China,” said USA Rice Chair Charley Mathews, Jr.  “China has long been on our radar and we believe their growing population and dietary preferences present a great opportunity for our farmers.”
Mathews was one of approximately 30 agriculture representatives who participated with President Trump and Vice Premier He at today’s signing ceremony.
“We appreciate the Administration’s help in seeking a level playing field for U.S. rice with China through both historic market access and compliance with WTO requirements.  We will continue to work on behalf of the U.S. rice industry to maximize the full potential of this market,” said Mathews.

Go here for details from the USTR Rice Fact Sheet.