Vietnam’s rice exports plummet 16 percent in first nine months

By Bui Hong Nhung   September 29, 2016 | 07:13 pm GMT+7
Vietnam’s rice exports plummet 16 percent in first nine months
A girl dries unhusked rice on a road in front of her home. Photo by REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Falling demand in key markets and increased competition have eaten into rice sales.

Vietnam’s rice exports collapsed 16.4 percent on-year to hit 3.76 million tons over the first nine months of 2016, data from the Ministry of Agriculture revealed.

Export value also went down by 12.5 percent on-year to $1.69 million.

After seeing signs of a recovery in August, the volume of Vietnamese rice exports fell 5.4 percent in September to hit 396,000 tons.

The main reason appears to be China, which tightened the management of rice imports through northern borders to prevent smuggled rice from entering its market.

Ministry official Hoang Trung said that China has switched to other rice suppliers such as India, Thailand and Cambodia, who offer lower prices.

China remained Vietnam’s largest rice importer, buying 1.18 million tons of Vietnamese rice over the first eight months of this year, but that was down 21.4 percent against last year.

Vietnam's rice export volume also dropped in the Philippines (down 36.4 percent), Malaysia (down 43.3 percent) and Singapore (down 35.7 percent).

The Ministry of Agriculture said that the bid Vietnam won to export 150,000 tons of rice to Phillipines has had little impact on the domestic rice market, and inventories remain high.

The country has about 1.3 million tons of stockpiled rice, of which one million tons has been designated for existing contracts. The remaining 300,000 tons is not enough to fulfill the contract between Vietnam and the Philippines, so traders are reluctant to buy more rice, said Huynh The Nang, chairman of the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

The gloomy picture has forced the VFA to lower the forecast export volume for 2016 to 5.65 million tons from 6.5 million tons.

If this is accurate, it will be the first time Vietnam has exported less than six million tons of rice in the last eight years.

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