Exports of milled rice in 2019 will be similar to last year despite a significant drop in shipments to the European Union, the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) said.
A 32 percent drop in rice exports to the EU so far this year is being offset by a rise in exports to other markets, particularly China, Malaysia, Brunei, Australia, Canada, and the United States, the rice association said.
The drop in shipments to the EU, the biggest market for Cambodian rice, is the result of tariffs imposed by the European Commission on local rice in February, according to CRF.
CRF’s secretary-general Lun Yeng said yesterday that exports of long-grain white rice to the EU were down but that shipments of fragrant rice were on the rise. Overall, however, rice exports to the bloc were significantly lower than last year.
“Overall, exports to the EU are down, but, fortunately, exports to other markets are increasing,” he said.
“By the end of the year, I believe we will export the same amount of rice to foreign markets than last year, or perhaps a bit more,” Mr Yeng said.
From January to August, Cambodia exported 132,947 tonnes of rice to China (a 54 percent hike compared to the same period in 2018), 43,317 tonnes to Asean countries (a 12 percent increase), and 45,731 tonnes to other countries (a 13 percent increase).
Exports to the EU amounted to 120,085 tonnes, a 32 percent drop.
Speaking at the launch of ‘RiceTechCambodia’ yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Veng Sakhon, the Minister of Agriculture, said the rice sector should focus on fragrant rice when it comes to exports.
“Competition in long-grain white rice in international markets is tough. It is hard for Cambodia to compete with Vietnam because the cost of production here is higher.
“The answer is to focus on fragrant rice because Cambodian fragrant rice is famous abroad,” Mr Sakhon said.
The government is now working on increasing access to capital for rice millers so that they can buy more paddy rice during the harvest season and build storage facilities, Mr Sakhon said, adding that it is also working on lowering costs for players in the industry, including the electricity bill and transportation. This, he said, will make the Kingdom more competitive vis-à-vis its neighbours.
Cambodia will fulfill its export quota in the Chinese market this year, shipping 300,000 tonnes of rice to the East Asian giant, according to CRF.
Last year, Cambodia exported 626,225 tonnes of rice abroad, a drop of 1.5 percent compared to 2017.
Grade A Cambodian fragrant rice sells for $900 to $950 per tonne, while Grade B fetches $700 to $740. Long-grain white rice sells for about $450 per tonne, CRF said.