(ORYZA.COM).-The sole rice mill in Jamaica completely replaced U.S. paddy rice with imports from Guyana in 2013 mainly due to higher prices of U.S. rice, according to the USDA.
The USDA says that Jamaica did not import any paddy rice from the U.S. in 2013 for the first time in recent history. Traditionally, Jamaica’s rice imports consisted of 20% of the U.S. paddy rice, but the share of U.S. paddy rice in Jamaica’s rice imports has been declining in the last five years.
According to the USDA, Jamaica’s total rice import market remains steady at about 90,000 tons. However, the U.S. paddy rice imports by Jamaica declined about 93% from around 46,000 tons in 2008 to 3,300 tons in 2012, and have vanished in 2013. Meanwhile, Jamaica’s rice imports from Suriname have been increasing in the past five years. Suriname accounted for around 28% of Jamaica’s total imports in 2011, according to the USDA.
Trade sources say that the change in the pattern is due to the quality and pricing issues, according to the USDA. While Guyana paddy rice prices high, those are cheaper than U.S paddy rice prices. However, local sources say tariff on U.S. imports could be another reason. Since imports from both Guyana and Suriname receive preferential treatment under the common external tariff (CET) for the Community (CARICOM) countries and CET on rice for non-CARICOM countries is 25%, paddy rice imports from the U.S., which is not a member of CARICOM, becomes comparatively expensive.