ARLINGTON, VA – Representatives of Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) visited US. MAFF is the sole purchaser of rice under Japan’s import commitment to members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). “We welcome MAFF’s regular visits to USA Rice so that we can have an exchange of views on U.S.-Japan rice trade and discuss other topics of mutual interest,” said USA Rice COO Bob Cummings. MAFF regularly tenders for rice imports throughout the Japan fiscal year (April-March) in order to fulfill Japan’s annual import commitment of 682,200 metric tons (milled basis) to WTO members.These tenders utilize two systems – minimum access and Simultaneous-Buy-Sell (SBS). 

Minimum access tenders account for the lion’s share of Japan’s imports, and purchases under SBS are passed through MAFF to end users, which are largely in the food service sector. Japan has tendered for just under 225,000 MT of rice to date, and U.S. exporters have supplied nearly half of this amount. U.S. sales have been particularly strong in the SBS tenders, accounting for just over 70 percent of the 25,000 MT purchased. “U.S. rice is especially competitive this year against domestic Japanese rice for food service use, and we believe U.S. rice will continue to enjoy success in SBS purchases this year,” said Chris Crutchfield, a California rice miller and chairman of the USA Rice Asia/Turkey International Promotion Sub committee. “We are confident that for the first time in a decade Japan will import the total annual allocation of 100,000 MT of rice under SBS.” The Japan and U.S. governments are currently engaged in high level discussions as part of the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue which began following the withdrawal of the United States in January from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. USA Rice is supportive of this dialogue and sees this engagement, along with most of U.S. agriculture, as a vehicle to improve market access in Japan.