USA Rice and Ag Groups: Don’t Forget About Asia

Feb 09, 2017
Michael Rue
WASHINGTON, DC -- USA Rice joined scores of farm organizations and agricultural companies earlier this week in a letter to President Trump encouraging the administration to seek deeper economic ties with countries of the Asia Pacific region.  The letter follows the withdrawal in January, at the President’s direction, of the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.  “Reducing and eliminating tariffs and other restrictive agricultural policies in this region will help American workers in our sector compete, creating an opportunity to supply Asia markets with high-quality food and agricultural goods,” wrote the groups.
“Access to markets in Asia is absolutely critical to the economic health of the U.S. rice industry,” said Michael Rue, vice chair of the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee and a California producer.  “The TPP was not ambitious for rice, and we support the administration’s efforts to negotiate bilateral trade agreements in this region.  Japan is obviously first on our list, and we stand ready to assist the U.S. government if the two countries enter into negotiations.”  

U.S. rice exports to Japan totaled 347,000 metric tons in 2016, valued at $236 million.  U.S. sales represent about half of Japan’s total rice purchases.

The Japanese government tightly controls rice imports, and USA Rice has long sought improved access in terms of tonnage and the ability to sell directly to Japan’s consumers.  “We look forward to another opportunity to strengthen our position in this vital market,” concluded Rue.