Negotiations between the U.S. and Colombian governments to implement the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are advancing. The U.S. rice industry is engaging with Colombian counterparts, the U.S. embassy in Colombia and Colombian government officials to ensure that procedures are in place to take advantage of a large duty-free tariff rate quota (TRQ) in Colombia for U.S. rice as soon as both governments put the FTA into force.
The TRQ for U.S. rice, initially set in year one at 79,000 metric tons, milled equivalent, will be managed by a U.S.-based export trading company. A U.S. rice delegation led by Michael Rue, California producer and chairman of USA Rice's Colombia TRQ Task Force, and including USA Rice Federation COO Bob Cummings and Alice Gomez of Cornerstone Government Affairs on behalf of the US Rice Producers Association, traveled to Colombia to meet with Fedearroz, Colombia's association of rice producers, and Colombian government officials. This trip follows a similar activity last week when the delegation met with U.S. embassy officials, Colombian government representatives from the Agriculture and Commerce ministries, Colombian customs, and Induarroz, the association of Colombia's rice millers. U.S. rice industry discussions on implementation issues are expected to continue shortly after this week's meetings.