Guyana-Mexico rice dealThe promised rice deal between Guyana and the North American Spanish-speaking country of Mexico is yet to become a reality, as Guyana awaits the completion of a Pest Risk Assessment currently being carried out by that country.Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) General Manager Nizam Hassan told Guyana Times on Wednesday that the Board had already played its part in this Risk Assessment, which he believed would create brighter prospects for rice farmers. He said Guyana has already submitted the necessary information to Mexico for it to carry out the analysis. It is now awaiting the results.Hassan disclosed further, however, that Guyana still has another hurdle to cross after the analysis. “We have been told that the Pest Risk Assessment is under review by SENASICA (the Mexican Government agency responsible for such activity) and that the next step will be to submit it to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for potential comments.”Last year, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo publicly announced that Government was moving in the direction of securing a rice deal with Mexico. This was a few months after the lucrative rice deal with Venezuela came to an abrupt end. It was noted that the relationship between Guyana and Venezuela became extremely tense and further deteriorated after the A Partnership for National Unity /Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government made a decision not to allow the Venezuelan State-owned airline Conviasa Airlines to land in Guyana over the non-payment of its bond. As time progressed, the two countries drifted from the cordial relations they were sharing for a number of years to bilateral talks breaking down. The rice industry in Guyana is suffering even more since the deal with that country was by far the most profitable.In earlier reports, Rice Producers Association (RPA) General Secretary Dharamkumar Seeraj had disclosed that there was no progress on the Mexican deal since the collapse of the lucrative Venezuelan deal. According to Seeraj, “There were promises of Guyana selling into the Mexican market as to replace, if not by value, by volume, the Venezuelan market, but we are still awaiting some progress of that arrangement with Mexico.”Seeraj had also highlighted that the proposed rice deal with Mexico might not even be a lucrative one. He said the RPA was not too optimistic about that market becoming a reality, and even if it did, it may not be at a competitive price, as the United States supplied about 95 per cent of the rice sold to Mexico at very economical prices.“Mexico is also very close to the US so there are a lot of logistical advantages over a country like Guyana that is way down in South America.”He reminded that Mexico and the US were also part of the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA), a trading bloc protected by protocols involving taxes on imports for extra-regional sources. Guyana, he said, can be classified as an extra-regional source taking into consideration NAFTA.