• Trump Trade Team Locked and Loaded with Lighthizer

    by Michael Klein | May 12, 2017
    He knows Mexico is #1 for rice
    ITP-Trump Trade Team Locked and Loaded with Lighthizer-170512

    President Trump’s trade team was rounded out yesterday when the man at the top, Robert Lighthizer, was finally confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become the U.S. Trade Representative.

    Ambassador Lighthizer hits the ground running with a long list of To-Do items, perhaps most notably overseeing the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a process that could get underway as early as next week with a formal notification to Congress of his intent to reopen the sprawling deal.

    Lighthizer’s views on free trade and agriculture that emerged during his confirmation process did much to reassure the ag sector, upset by what many perceived as reckless rhetoric on trade coming out of the White House.

    When asked if the needs of farmers and ranchers could be protected during any tinkering with  NAFTA, Lighthizer responded: “I do believe it can be done. I’m not suggesting that it will be easy, but I do believe it can be done.”

    “We welcome Ambassador Lighthizer to his new position and trust that any renegotiation of NAFTA will adhere to the guiding principle of ‘First do no harm,’” said Betsy Ward, President and CEO of USA Rice.  “Mexico remains our top export market and Canada our fourth.  That is because of NAFTA, not in spite of it.”

    Other issues awaiting Lighthizer include a 100 day trade program with China that, at this time, does not look to include U.S. rice, a possible opening up of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement from which rice was excluded in 2007, and a stepped up emphasis on enforcement of existing trade deals and rooting out bad actors as emphasized by President Trump on the campaign trail and since.

  • Once an International Aid Recipient, South Korea Becomes Rice Donor

    by Deborah Willenborg | May 01, 2017
    ASEAN member countries
    ASEAN-Member-Countries Map
    SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – For the first time in history, South Korean rice will be sent to Southeast Asian developing countries through an international food aid program.  According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, it is the first time any of the government-run rice stockpile will have been donated to a third country through an international framework.  

    South Korea is the only country in the world to have become a donor country after being a recipient of United Nations aid in half a century.  

    Last month a panel of the ASEAN+3 Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) approved South Korea's plan to offer 750 tons of rice to the food aid program.  Launched in 2013 by 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), plus South Korea, Japan, and China, APTERR is aimed at safeguarding the region's food security in case of emergencies.

    Out of the 750 tons of donated South Korean rice, 500 tons will go to Myanmar and 250 tons to Cambodia sometime this month.  Both Myanmar and Cambodia are net exporters of rice, mostly long grain and jasmine rice.

    The APTERR participation is also part of the Seoul government's plan to deal with a chronic oversupply of rice in the country stemming from a sharp drop in rice consumption.  Some 300,000 tons of rice remained in excess last year, as the 4.2 million ton supply outpaced the 3.9 million tons consumed, and the oversupply situation will likely remain at 200,000 tons in 2017.

    “Under the terms of accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), South Korea is required to import 408,700 metric tons of rice annually and imports from the U.S. have averaged around 46.5 percent of this total in the last five years,” said Hugh Maginnis, USA Rice vice president of international.  “The South Korean government has taken a number of measures in recent years in an attempt to reduce rice production, increase rice consumption, and bring supply and demand into better balance.  This food aid initiative is just the latest effort in this regard.”
  • USA Rice Carves Out a Niche in Korea with New Products

    by Deborah Willenborg | Apr 20, 2017
    A Korean snack with a U.S. twist
    SEOUL, KOREA – In the latest of a slew of new food and snack products that use U.S.-grown rice is a new convenience package of “Army Stew,” a Korean-style spicy soup containing kimchi, sausage, ham, rice cakes, and ramen noodles.  The rice cakes are produced using rice flour originating from U.S. rice.  Many snacks and food items containing rice flour have emerged on the market here within the last year.  

    Two years ago, when Korea first implemented tariffication, whereby the purchase of rice for table use was no longer guaranteed by Korea’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, USA Rice began discussions and held technical meetings with the rice flour users and rice flour processors here to gain more interest in U.S. rice as a processed food ingredient.  

    The overall strategy consisted of:  1) reminding rice product manufacturers and foodservice that U.S. rice is high in quality, ​reliable, and appealing to their customers through menu presentation seminars; 2) encouraging and supporting the launch of new U.S rice menus; and 3) building an appreciation for U.S. rice among Korean food media and consumers via traditional consumer promotions.

    USA Rice kicked off the food ingredient promotion with a rice cake project that encouraged rice flour processors to test U.S. medium grain rice for their operations and ultimately change the origin of their rice flour products to the U.S. from either domestic or Chinese rice.

    Steadily, many food manufacturers have launched new U.S. rice-based food products and some changed rice flour sources to use U.S. rice.  

    “According to noodle product manufacturers, Korean customers prefer the chewy texture of noodles and rice flour made with U.S. rice,” said Hugh Maginnis, vice president of international for USA Rice.  “So our efforts are paying dividends and we are poised to potentially grow our presence here - something that ​remained unclear when the government announced plans to move to tarrification.”
  • U.S. Rice Gains Vital Exposure in Korean Foodservice Industry

    by Michael Klein | Oct 18, 2016
    IP-US Rice Gains Vital Exposure in Korean Foodservice Industry-161018​Delicious, and now easy to order too!

    Last month, USA Rice conducted a second menu presentation seminar with Chef Plaza ​in Daegu, South Korea. Chef Plaza, a culinary consulting agency, is a subsidiary of Samyang Corporation, one of the largest food manufacturing and foodservice distribution companies in Korea.  Samyang established Chef Plaza to conduct tailored menu seminars for their existing and potential customers, introducing their foodservice products (such as sauces, oils, sugar, and flour) and R&D activities by professional chefs.

    For the seminars, three of the ten receipes developed by a Chef Plaza Chinese chef, Woongtaek Oh, were rice-focused.  Seventy R&D and marketing staff from different foodservice companies, restaurants, and culinary institutes participated in the seminars.

    More than 90 percent of the attendees responded that they detected better texture of U.S medium grain rice for Chinese rice menus and more than 88 percent indicated a willingness to incorporate the use of U.S medium grain rice in their menus.

    The product code for U.S. medium grain rice has been registered in the massive Samyang ordering system for their customers, which is no small feat.  Placing orders for U.S. medium grain rice is now much easier for Samyang customers.

    “This is an important development in both the cooperative arrangement with Samyang in promoting U.S. rice but also in gaining access to their foodservice distribution system,” noted Hugh Maginnis, USA Rice International Vice President.

  • USA Rice at Seoul Food and Hotel Show; Interest in U.S.-Grown Rice for Manufacturing

    by Colleen Klem | May 29, 2015
    Busy booth
     Busy booth
    ILSAN, SOUTH KOREA - Earlier this month, USA Rice opened its popular booth in the U.S. pavilion of the Seoul Food & Hotel Korea exhibition here. The show is Korea's longest running, and Asia's third largest, food trade show with more than 40,000 attendees from 39 countries.
    USA Rice displayed U.S. medium and long grain rice and conducted recipe demonstrations using U.S. medium grain rice in kimbob (rice roll wrapped with seaweed) and fried rice. Steamed white rice was presented to showcase the performance of U.S. medium grain rice.
    Approximately 1,000 registered guests from food service, food manufacturing and distribution fields visited the USA Rice booth during the show. Among the visitors were representatives of some major food manufacturers interested in using U.S. rice as an ingredient for their product development, such as retort fried rice, rice cakes, and rice flour. USA Rice staff will follow up for possible diversification of U.S. rice into food manufacturing sectors.
    The Korean government has purchased 64,000 MT of U.S. brown rice for processing purpose as of May 15, 2015. Another tender was held on May 21, which includes 10,000 MT of USDA #1 medium grain milled rice for table rice purposes and 38,352 MT of USDA #3 Medium Grain Brown Rice for processing purposes. Results of the tender are pending at this time.

  • U.S. Objects to Korea's New Rice Import Scheme

    by Temp 2 Temp 2 | Jan 06, 2015
    WASHINGTON, DC -- The United States joined four other members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) late last month in objecting to Korea's new rice tariffication scheme.  The action did not prevent Korea from imposing the new tariff-based rice import system on January 1, but the new system has not been approved by the WTO, and Korea will very likely enter into negotiations with the five countries in order to lift the objections.  The USA Rice Federation supports this action by the U.S. because Korea's new import regime is a significant step backwards on market access for U.S. rice.
    Representatives from Australia, China, Thailand, and Vietnam, all rice exporters to Korea, joined the U.S. in "reserving," in WTO-speak, their country's position with respect to Korea's new tariff schedule for rice imports.  
    Korea's new scheme is designed to replace the previous system that was based on rigid import controls by the Korean government and expired on December 31, 2014.
    Korea chose not to seek an extension of "special treatment" for rice imports within WTO rules, and instead opted to move to a tariff-based system.  Korea has now imposed a rice import duty of 513 percent on any rice imported in excess of a quota of 408,700 metric tons annually.  The Korean government will remain the sole importer of rice for this "in-quota" amount, and private entities may import above this amount, but would face the hefty over-quota duty.
    Korea's new system abolished existing country-specific import quotas, including a 50,076-mt quota for the United States.  Korea was also required to allocate 30 percent of rice imports each year to the "table" or retail market.  This was a critical requirement that has enabled U.S. rice to establish demand among Korea's quality-conscious consumers and allowed effective promotion of U.S. rice.  The over quota duty of 513 percent is prohibitive to trade and will effectively cap Korea's rice imports.  Each of these developments is detrimental to U.S. access.
    Korea imported just under 159,000 mt of U.S. rice in 2013. Exports lagged considerably last year however, with shipments down 86 percent through October.
    "Bilateral discussions between the United States and Korea did not sufficiently address U.S. market access concerns, leading to the U.S. objection in Geneva," said USA Rice President and CEO Betsy Ward.  "Korea's new import regime is in place, but will not be officially adopted by the WTO until member country reservations are lifted.  The negotiating calendar is unclear now, but USA Rice will continue close coordination with the administration to ensure market access is preserved."
    Contact:  Bob Cummings (703) 236-1473