December 12, 2018 ( Hin Pisei, The Phnom Penh Post )
Cambodia's rice exports to the international market fell more than 13 per cent for the first 11 months of the year, compared to the same period last year, a report by the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality said.
It showed a drop in exports to the international market in the first 11 months of the year, accounting for 497,240 tonnes – down from 562,237 tonnes in the same period last year.
Industry insiders have repeatedly said the decline is due to the lack of stockpiles and competition with neighbouring countries.
Reason for decline
The vice-president of the Cambodian Rice Federation, Hun Lak, told The Post on Tuesday that the Kingdom’s rice exports have dropped almost every month this year. He said the fall is due to a lack of stockpiles during harvest season and price competition with neighbouring countries.
“In the second and third quarters, the price of Cambodia’s jasmine rice was higher than neighbouring countries by $30 to $40 a tonne and this is the reason for the decline in exports,” he said.
Cambodia pledged to send one million tonnes of rice per year to the international market by 2015, but only exported 538,396 tonnes in 2015, 542,144 tonnes in 2016, and 635,679 tonnes last year.
In November this year, Cambodia’s rice exports only equalled 62,433 tonnes, down from 70,112 tonnes in the same month last year.
“With the current situation in Cambodia, it is difficult to reach the target of one million tonnes of rice exports because there are still many challenges to be addressed,” Lak said.
The key ways to improve exports, said Lak, is through increasing and expanding rice stockpiles, increased loans to grow the industry, and lowering production costs.
AMRU Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd CEO Song Saran said the decline in exports is due to Cambodia’s move towards high-quality and thus more expensive rice market.
He said Cambodia previously exported mostly white rice, but these numbers have steadily declined as the volume of fragrant rice exports increased.
“In terms of the quantity of exports we’ve seen a drop, but when we talk value it is higher than last year,” he said.
In 2018, Cambodian white rice sold at $470 per tonne, fragrant rice ranged between $785 and $790 per tonne, while jasmine rice sold for $890. These prices represented an increase of 8 to 10 per cent from last year.
China was the leading buyer of Cambodian rice in the first 11 months of the year with nearly 140,000 tonnes, while exports to France totalled over 70,000 tonnes, Malaysia (40,000 tonnes), and Gabon (2,500 tonnes).
Cambodia is also facing impending rice tariffs from the EU that could further impact exports.