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China, EU drive rice export gains in first half

Cambodian rice exports for the first half of 2015 followed an upward trajectory compared to the same period last year, as growing demand from China for white rice and the European Union’s growing appetite for parboiled rice buoyed exports.

Rice export totalled 283,825 tonnes for the first six months this year, an increase of almost 60 per cent compared to the same period last year, as reported by the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality.

White rice made up 47 per cent of these exports, followed by fragrant rice at 44.50 per cent, with parboiled rice rounding up the exports at 8 per cent.

Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice Cambodia, one of the country’s largest rice exporters, said increased demand from China was driving the growth this year, coupled with new offerings like parboiled rice.

“Cambodia has started producing parboiled rice to supply the demand from countries like Italy,” said Saran.

“This is another step in our product diversification efforts, which allows Cambodia to export more.”

Saran said the focus should be on producing quality rice – given Chinese consumers’ growing demand for non-contaminated food products – than producing cheap rice where margins are low for both farmers and exporters.

According to the report, China alone imported more than 72,000 tonnes of rice during this period.

Given the completion of the 100,000-tonne rice export quota with China in May, officials on both sides are still working on possibly doubling this quota for the coming year.

In contrast to this year’s exports, Cambodia exported only 175,959 tonnes in 2013 and almost the same amount, 177,928 tonnes, in 2014.

European Union countries, including France, Poland and The Netherlands, remain the top three importers of Cambodian rice.

Italy, which has been a vocal opponent of Cambodian rice exports under the Everything But Arms scheme, afforded to least developed nations by the economic bloc, is ranked fourth in terms of rice imports.

The Ministry of Commerce spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

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