The USA Rice Federation applauds the free trade agreement reached between the United States and the Dominican Republic.

“This trade agreement brings a new opportunity for the U.S. rice industry,” said USA Rice Chairman Gary Sebree, an Arkansas rice grower. “There are eight million consumers in the Dominican Republic, and while we have had only sporadic access to this market in the past, now we can sell them the best quality rice in the world. We look forward to a solid relationship with the people of the Dominican Republic.”

The agreement opens up the Dominican market by establishing two tariff rate quotas, 8,000 tons of milled rice, and 2,000 tons of rough or brown rice, each one growing 7 percent a year. There are no import duties within the tariff rate quotas, and duties outside the TRQs will phase out over 20 years.

“While it's unfortunate that it will take 20 years to get to free trade in rice, we are happy with the agreement, as rice access has historically been restricted to the Dominican Republic,” said Sebree. “We know that rice was the most sensitive agriculture product in these negotiations, and would like to thank U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Ambassador Allen Johnson and all who have worked to make this agreement possible.”

Fold into combined agreement

“We understand,” Sebree continued,” that the administration will fold the agreement with the Dominican Republic into the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and this combined agreement will provide us guaranteed access for nearly 52,000 tons of milled and 355,000 tons of rough rice in the first year of implementation. The CAFTA adds new opportunities for U.S. rice producers and exporters in what is already a significant market. We also commend the administration for negotiating a comprehensive agricultural agreement with the Dominican Republic, and we will work to secure passage by Congress.”

The USA Rice Federation is the national advocate for all segments of the rice industry, conducting activities to influence government programs, developing and initiating programs to increase worldwide demand for U.S. rice, and providing other services to increase industry profitability for all industry segments.

For more information, visit www.usarice.com.