Cambodia and East Timor have moved closer to sealing a rice-export deal following a meeting between officials.
Initial conversations between the country’s two governments about trading the commodity, along with other agricultural products including palm sugar, began in 2016.
However, the talks resumed in earnest last week as East Timor seeks to increase its food stockpiles in a precautionary measure against the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. The island nation, which lies in the Indonesian archipelago, has not reported any fatalities but closed its borders with Indonesia and declared a state of emergency last month.
Speaking after the meeting, attended by Ermenegildo Kupalopes, East Timor’s ambassador to Cambodia, fellow attendee Lun Yeng, secretary-general of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CFR) said that while no official agreement had been made, a follow-up letter is expected to cement the deal.
“We are now waiting for East Timor to send an official letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Based on the official letter, we will find out what variety of rice and the volumes they wish to import and put the wheels in motion,” Yeng said.
The Cambodian government has temporarily banned exports of white rice to the international market in efforts to ensure domestic food security. Exports of fragrant rice are permitted. In the first quarter of this year, Cambodia exported rice in a total of 230,948 tonnes to foreign markets, a 35 percent increase compared with the same period in 2019.