Analysis from Bob Cummings, Chief Operating Officer, USA Rice
We’re 100+ days into a new administration in Washington, D.C. marked, on the trade front, by a flurry of Executive Orders signed by President, U.S. withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal and a near pullout from the North America Free Trade Agreement. But one thing hasn’t changed, the phytosanitary protocol between the governments of China and the United States on U.S. milled rice remains unsigned and U.S. exporters continued to be locked out of the world’s single largest rice import market.
We all know the story — years of negotiation that culminated in a technical agreement between the two governments late in 2015 and refusal to the present time by China to officially sign and implement the protocol.
During a late-April meeting in Florida, President Trump and President Xi of China agreed on an ambitious sounding plan to resolve major trade issues in 100 days. On the agricultural front, it’s now evident that China’s ambition was underwhelming. China’s focus was reportedly on beef, while the U.S. side brought forward a range of unresolved market access issues, including the rice protocol. We understand that negotiations remain ongoing on what’s to be included in the final list.
The new administration is well aware of our industry’s objective in China and they have taken up the challenge. Resolving access with China is never quick. USA Rice will continue to press this issue with the administration at every opportunity.