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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - China stalls Cambodia’s first rice exports at border

China stalls Cambodia’s first rice exports at border

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Cambodia had made its first direct shipment of rice to China, an official revealed yesterday, but the test run, which was hoped to open the vast Chinese rice market to local exporters, was largely unsuccessful.

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Golden Rice Co Ltd shipped 48 tonnes of milled rice to China earlier this year in a test of potential rice trading between the two countries, Sok Hach, the president of the company, said during a discussion on Cambodia’s export sector yesterday.

But the shipment had failed to meet inspection standards after arriving in the southern Chinese port city of Shenzhen, he said.

“It’s not a problem with the quality of Cambodia’s rice. It’s a paperwork problem on the Chinese side,” Sok Hach said on the sidelines of the meeting, held at the ASEAN-EU Business Summit in Phnom Penh.

“There’s something missing between the political level and technical level for the shipment.”

Without politically circumnavigating strict regulations, Cambodian rice had little chance of landing in Chinese bowls, an expert with Cambodia’s Agricultural Development International told the Post last year.

Chinese companies signed several memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with Cambodian rice millers last year but the agreements were political, not technical, Sok Hach said.

In mid-2011, Cambodian rice millers Soma Group and TTY Group signed MoUs for 20,000 tonnes of milled rice apiece, but the rice has yet to leave Cambodian ports.

Angkor Rice signed a 1,000-tonne MoU with China National Cereal, Oil and Foodstuffs Corporation in August.

Breaking into the Chinese market for rice had proved more problematic than markets such as the European Union, Sok Hach said.

When the company made a similar trial run for rice exports to Europe two years earlier, no such regulatory problems occurred, he said.

EU demand largely fuelled the Kingdom’s exports last year.

Despite the setback, Sok Hach claimed Cambodia would begin direct shipments to China this year.

“Cambodian rice will flood the Chinese market,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Weinland at don.weinland@phnompenhpost.com

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