by | Feb 4, 2016 | Exports, Markets

Colombian rice imports are set to rise above last year’s record volumes.

As 2015 wound down, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a decree that 200,000 metric tons of imported rice will be needed to maintain adequate supplies in the coming year. Colombia is one of the highest per capita rice consumers in Latin America at 90 pounds. With nearly a third of its provinces in a state of emergency due to extreme drought brought by El Niño, Colombia’s rice growers have been struggling.

In the first 10 months of 2015, Colombia imported 218,743 Mtons of rice, 99.45% of it from the US, according to our Colombian trade data. Colombia moved up to become the top market for US rice last year from 51st largest export destination just four years earlier, as USA Rice’s Jim Guinn noted.

You can see the major shift in top sources for Colombia’s rice imports in these 8-year trend charts – one follows imports from the top countries of origin as of 2007, the second tracks the growth in trade of the currently ranked leaders.

Colombian rice imports from the top countries of origin as of 2007 over 8 years through 2014Colombian rice imports from the top countries of origin as of 2014 over 8 years through 2014

It’s clear there’s been a big change in the cast of  trading partners. The 2014 Colombian data records no shipments in 2014 from Ecuador and Venezuela, top sources in 2007. (It should be noted that rice is still crossing these borders in a sizable illicit trade.)

Meanwhile, US rice got a boost from the free trade agreement with Colombia that entered into force in 2012. Under the FTA, Colombia can import an annual quota of rice duty free. Rice imports above and beyond the quota are subject to a duty of 80%. The quota will continue to rise until it is eliminated in 2030. The duty will be gradually reduced starting in 2018, until it, too, is eliminated in 2030.

Colombia rice imports were within the 2014 quota of 86,270 Mtons, but exceeded 2015’s quota of 90,152 Mtons. The quota this year is 94,209 Mtons, far below the Colombian government’s target of 200,000 Mtons. Given the strong US dollar and the 80% tariff on imports exceeding the quota, US rice is going to be pricey, setting up an opportunity for Thai rice, says USA Rice.





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