Cambodia’s milled rice exports fell about 3.4 percent in the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year, according to a report.
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Exports dropped to about 161,115 tonnes, compared with 166,678 tonnes in the same period in 2017.
Last month alone 50,683 tonnes of milled rice were exported, about 12.7 percent less than the 57,127 tonnes in 2017.
A report from the Secretariat of the One Window Service for Rice Export Formality says Cambodia exported rice to 63 destinations.
China was on the top of the list of the importers, following by France, Malaysia, Gabon, Poland, the Netherlands and Britain.
China imported about 41,412 tonnes of Cambodia’s milled rice, France 21,581 tonnes, Malaysia 13,074 tonnes, Gabon 10,010, Poland 8,886 tonnes, and Netherland and the United Kingdom 7,131 and 5,806 tonnes respectively.
Hun Lak, vice-president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said the slight drop in rice exports in the first three months was because of a lack of paddy rice in warehouses for processing by millers.
“Some local large rice millers have also face the lack of paddy to be processing for export because neighboring countries have purchased a lot of rice from Cambodia since late last year,” Mr Lak said.
“The global rice price is increasing now, and the demand is also on the rise while our neighbours have big orders for their stocks of rice.”
He said that the issue now was that Cambodia lacked milled rice to meet demand. He added that demand was greater than supply.
“In the next three months, rice exports will not increase as it is difficult to buy paddy for processing to meet the demand,” he said.
Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, one of the leading rice exporters in Cambodia, said formal exports of Cambodian rice fell slightly in the first three months but the price of Cambodian rice was good this year.
He said that the price was about $840 per tonnes for Cambodian fragrant rice and $940 per tonnes for premium rice while the price of Vietnamese rice was about $500 to $600 per tonne.
Mr Saran added that Cambodia could lose some share of the Asean market, particularly in Malaysia which would be purchasing rice from Vietnam.
“The trend of Cambodian fragrant rice is better because we have the Chinese market. Therefore, the Asean market, particularly Malaysia, would be loss as they buy from Vietnam due to the low price,” Mr Saran said.
“We could lose the Malaysian market as we focus mostly on China. This year, the Chinese market is favourable, so rice exports are mostly flocking to China.
Mr Saran said informal exports of Cambodian ride had increased. Most of it went to Vietnam.