China has agreed to allow imports of rice from the US for the first time. The agreement gives US rice farmers access to the world’s main consumer of the grain, with China importing over 5 million tonnes in 2016 alone.
While China opened its rice market back in 2001, a lack of procedures were in place to deal with pests and plant diseases, which effectively stopped imports from being carried out. The organisation representing the US rice industry said the new protocol was one of the most complex food standards, and set strict principles for US exporters to protect against the introduction of certain pests into China.
Chairman of the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee stated: ‘We know China wants to send a team here to examine the mills and facilities certified to transport to China, and we are working with the USDA to make that happen in the most efficient way.’
The US Agriculture Secretary stated the agreement is a huge benefit for both parties: “this market represents an exceptional opportunity, with enormous potential for growth in the future.”
According to OECD projections, the average individual in China consumes 75kg of rice per year, compared with an average of 13kg in North America and 5kg in Europe. USA Rice said China consumes the equivalent of the entire US annual output over a two week period.