End in Sight for Colombia’s Restrictions on U.S. Paddy

Apr 13, 2017
Not much standing in the way
End-in-Sight-for-Colombia-Restrictions-on-US-Paddy
ARLINGTON, VA -- It’s been a long journey with too many delays, but the government of Colombia looks close to removing longstanding import restrictions on U.S. paddy.  Colombian plant health officials have acknowledged to their U.S. counterparts that the fungal disease Tilletia Horrida is present in Colombia.  The presence of this disease in U.S. rice country has been used as an excuse by Colombia to restrict imports of U.S. rough rice to only the port of Barranquilla and processing in surrounding mills, and to require fumigation of the cargo before shipment.  

“This discovery removes the scientific basis for Colombia’s current import restrictions,” said USA Rice COO Bob Cummings.  “Colombian officials should now take this evidence from their own study and move forward to remove the restrictions.”  

U.S. officials have told USA Rice that Colombia will review and revise the import regulations on U.S. paddy, with estimated completion this summer.  

“The U.S. rice industry will continue to support and assist U.S. officials in Washington and Bogota in what we see as the final push to open fully the market in Colombia as soon as possible,” concluded Cummings.

Since the enactment of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, Colombia has emerged as a consistent and strong market for, primarily, U.S. long grain milled and paddy rice.  Sales in 2016 were 139,985 MT valued at $58.2 million.  The trade agreement provides for an increasing amount of U.S. rice to enter Colombia under annual duty-free tariff rate quotas (TRQ) until Colombia’s import duties phase out completely in 2030.  In 2017, 98,448 MT of U.S. rice can enter duty free; rice imports over that amount pay an 80-percent duty.   

As an added benefit, state rice research boards receive one-half of the revenue received from auctioning off import licenses under each year’s TRQ.  In 2016, more than $13 million was distributed to the six rice states to support research.