Cambodian rice exports to international markets in the first quarter of the year are not expected to increase, according to Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) president, Song Saran.
In January, Cambodia exported 34,273 tonnes of rice, valued at $30.76 million, to 28 countries. This represented a year-on-year decrease of 32.07 percent. Exports in February and March will continue to drop, said Song Saran.
“Our rice exports this month and in March will drop further because of global shipping problems” he said, adding that shipping is the main challenge for the sector currently.
According to his projection, while the outlook for the Chinese rice market in the first quarter remains positive, the European rice market’s prognosis is weak because of the shipping crisis.
In January, Cambodian rice exports to Europe fell by almost 60 percent, mainly because of the shortage of shipping containers available for rice as heavy cargo. There is also not enough space for pre-courier transport from Sihanoukville to European vessels, driving costs up by a multiple of five, according to the CRF.
“We have orders but cannot fulfill them due to the shortage of containers”, Song Saran underlined.
He also expressed concern over projections for an improvement in global logistics and shipping not taking place during the second quarter of 2021.
“Some expert projections have already shared concerns about the second quarter of the year. If those come to be, our rice exports will be impacted further. We will continue to monitor the situation,” he noted.
The CRF’s market and export promotion executive committee met Wednesday to discuss the sector’s current challenges. They aimed especially at finding solutions and mechanisms that would boost exports to China.
The details of the strategy were not released. The Chinese market accounts for the largest share of the Kingdom’s overall rice exports.
In January, China was the destination for 47 percent of Cambodian rice exports, followed by Europe at 23 percent, ASEAN member nations at 10 percent with other markets accounting for 20 percent.