First commercial shipment of U.S. rice lands in China

By Jennifer Dorsett

China appeared to make further progress in opening its doors to U.S. agricultural commodities as the first-ever commercial shipment of U.S.-grown rice was unloaded at the port of Xiamen this week.

The 20-metric-ton (MT) shipment of California-grown medium-grain rice was sold by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Rice, Inc. to the privately-owned Chinese retailer Sungiven, according to USA Rice.

China agreed to purchase more U.S. agricultural goods, including rice, under the phase one trade agreement signed by both countries in January.

“We are pleased to see the first shipment to China of U.S.-grown rice,” Bobby Hanks, chair of USA Rice, said. “We hope to see more buyers, both private and government, step forward to purchase U.S. rice. As a reliable supplier with high-quality long, medium and short grain, the U.S. is well positioned to help fill some of the import demand in China moving forward.”

China, the world’s largest rice-producing nation, is also the top global importer and consumer of the staple grain. The nation consumed more than 142 million MT of rice in 2019, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report projecting China to consume more than 146 million MT this year.

Hanks, who also chairs the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee, said USA Rice representatives have been working with U.S. government and Chinese officials for more than 15 years to establish a two-way trading relationship.

As part of the larger phase one trade agreement, a phytosanitary agreement was reached between the U.S. and China, establishing 32 approved export facilities across the six major U.S. rice-growing states.

All rice entering China must be milled and packaged under terms specified in the agreement and must originate from one of the pre-approved export facilities.

USA Rice noted all U.S.-grown rice entering China under their tariff rate quota faces a 1-percent quota duty in addition to a 25-percent retaliatory duty, but in most cases, Chinese importers may apply to waive the retaliatory duty.

“As seasoned exporters, this small shipment of California milled rice sounded routine at the outset, but the many logistical challenges of exporting to this new market proved to be one of our most complex transactions to date,” Buzz Burich, ADM Rice vice president, said. “This shipment would not have been possible without the teamwork of all involved at ADM Rice, the USA Rice Federation, USDA officials and our esteemed customer, Sungiven. We hope this initial collaborative effort will lead to increased sales of U.S. rice to China and contribute to stronger trade relations between both nations.”

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