A USA Rice delegation of growers, millers, merchants, and exporters is meeting with Mexican officials and customers here to reassure them of the U.S. industry’s commitment to the number-one market for U.S.-grown rice in the world.Amidst heightened rhetoric from the White House about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the 12-member delegation is being led by USA Rice Chair Brian King and USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward, and is holding meetings with the Mexican Rice Council (MRC), the leading organization representing Mexican producers and millers, as well as with importers, wholesalers, distributors, and Mexican brand representatives. “We are pleased and honored to have this opportunity to demonstrate our strong commitment to our loyal customers in Mexico who purchase the lion’s share of our exports,” said King. “For many years, Mexico has been our top market both in terms of volume and value, and we want to keep it that way,” he added.
Mexico is currently the top destination for U.S. rice, with 825,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of imports in 2016. “It’s important that we enhance and build on the strong customer relationships we have here, and I’d like to come away from this week with a mutual understanding that the U.S. and Mexican rice industries are in this together,” said Ms. Ward adding that the United States enjoys an almost 90 percent market share, but trade between the countries could easily become disrupted as the countries trade barbs over various issues. Additionally, the USA Rice group will seek to allay Mexican concerns over difficult trade issues, including the future of NAFTA. “We do not want to become a casualty of a broader trade war,” said Ward who plans to tell her counter part at MRC, “Make no mistake to us NAFTA has been a success on both sides and we have been steadfastly communicating this to the Trump Administration.”