Alex Balafoutis, PGP International and chairman of the USA Rice Federation’s Asia technical working group, led a delegation of U.S. marketers in the third annual meeting with representatives from Korea’s Agri-Fisheries Trade Corp. (aT) and the Ministry for Food Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MIFAFF) to discuss technical issues related to the export of U.S. rice to Korea. aT is the buying agent for Korea, and MIFAFF is responsible for Korea’s compliance with the 2005 World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on rice market access, which spells out Korea’s import obligations from the United States and other WTO members.
Following an exchange of information on 2011 rice crop production in both countries, the two sides discussed quality characteristics of U.S. rice, grading, inspection, and packaging developments.
In exchange for permission from the WTO to maintain an absolute quota on rice imports, Korea is required this calendar year to import 347,658 metric tons (MT) of rice from WTO members, including at least 50,076 MT from the United States. aT has begun tendering for 2011. In 2010, Korea purchased approximately 105,000 MT of U.S. rice, just slightly below the record set in 2008 under the current market access agreement.