US-China export agreement could boost Louisiana rice industry - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

US-China export agreement could boost Louisiana rice industry

(SOURCE: KPLC) (SOURCE: KPLC)
SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) -

For the first time ever, the United States will be able to export rice to China, the world's largest rice consumer.

A trade agreement between the two nations could provide a boost to U.S. rice growers and millers, including those here in Southwest Louisiana.

On Thursday, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that China and the U.S. had reached agreement on the final details for implementing a trade deal that allows U.S. milled rice into the Chinese market, a deal that was reached in January 2016. 

"I think it's a boost for rice producers and millers in the state," said Michael Deliberto, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at LSU.

Deliberto says that although one can't immediately gauge the impact the agreement will have on prices for Louisiana-produced rice, there's a great opportunity to break into a lucrative market, now that the trade deal is finalized. 

And getting even a small percentage of market share of the rice imported to China - most of which now comes from Southeast Asia - could benefit U.S. rice growers, said Deliberto. 

Once the deal is fully implemented, the U.S. rice industry will have access to the world’s largest producer and consumer of rice. Since 2013, China also has been the largest importer, with imports reaching nearly 5 million tons last year, according to a statement released by the White House.

“This is another great day for U.S. agriculture and, in particular, for our rice growers and millers, who can now look forward to gaining access to the Chinese market. This market represents an exceptional opportunity today, with enormous potential for growth in the future,” Perdue said in a statement. “The agreement with China has been in the works for more than a decade and I’m pleased to see it finally come to fruition, especially knowing how greatly it will benefit our growers and industry."

U.S. rice exports to China can begin after an audit of U.S. rice facilities by Chinese government inspectors, according to the White House.

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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