USA Rice Delegation Meets with Mexican Rice Council, Kicking Off Week of Meetings

Apr 24, 2017
#1 in volume and value
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – Amidst heightened rhetoric from the White House about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a USA Rice delegation of growers, millers, merchants, and exporters is meeting with officials and customers here to reassure them of the U.S. industry’s commitment to the number-one market for U.S.-grown rice in the world.

The 12-member delegation is being led by USA Rice Chair Brian King and USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward, and is holding meetings with the Mexican Rice Council (MRC), the leading organization representing Mexican producers and millers, as well as with importers, wholesalers, distributors, and Mexican brand representatives.

“We are pleased and honored to have this opportunity to demonstrate our strong commitment to our loyal customers in Mexico who purchase the lion’s share of our exports,” said King.  “For many years, Mexico has been our top market both in terms of volume and value, and we want to keep it that way.”  

Delegation members will review and analyze current promotion programs, and meet with customers and U.S. government officials to discuss opportunities to expand U.S. rice sales here.  Additionally, the USA Rice group will seek to allay Mexican concerns over difficult trade issues, including the future of NAFTA.

Ward plans to tell her counterpart at MRC, “Make no mistake, to us, NAFTA has been a success on both sides, and we have been steadfastly communicating this to the Trump Administration – ‘update what you need to, but do no harm to what works.’”  

“I’m looking forward to a week of very productive meetings,” said Louisiana rice farmer John Owen, who is a part of the delegation.  “It’s important that we enhance and build on the strong customer relationships we have here, and I’d like to come away from this week with a mutual understanding that the U.S. and Mexican rice industries are in this together.”

Mexico is currently the top destination for U.S. rice, with 825,000 metric tons heading here in 2016.  The United States enjoys an almost 90 percent market share, but Ward said trade between the countries could easily become disrupted as the countries trade barbs over various issues.

“We do not want to become a casualty of a broader trade war,” Ward said.