The Ministry of Commerce is working with its Chinese counterparts to renew a rice trade agreement, which will likely expire this month, and has requested to double the existing 100,000-tonne quota of rice Cambodia is currently able to export to China, a ministry spokesman said yesterday.
Minister Sun Chanthol, in a letter to the vice minister at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, has asked for the rise in rice export quota for the period of May 2015 to April2016. The letter comes off the back of the successful implementation of the current 12-month quota ahead of time. Cambodia had signed a one-year agreement last August to export 100,000 tonnes of rice to China.
“The letter seeks support to increase the quota to 200,000 tonnes between China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO) and [Cambodia] state-owned Green Trade Company,” said Ken Ratha, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce.
Ratha said the two governments have a close relationship and that the ministry will leverage the successful implementation of the current quota to have it raised. He added that extending the agreement is key to increasing and diversifying the Kingdom’s rice export destinations.
“I think it is important to open up the market and we will try to increase the volume of exports,” Ratha said. “We will keep going with the relationship and another MoU with the Chinese.”
China, in the past, had expressed concerns over the quality and hygiene standards of Cambodian agricultural products, but Ratha said the ministry had received no complaints from the Chinese government and that the agreement has been a “good achievement”.
Song Saran, CEO of AMRU Rice Co, said it was important to extend the agreement as China, along with Malaysia, are now Cambodia’s biggest rice export destinations in Asia. But, he said Cambodia would need to up its procurement to meet the added demand, as well as maintain quality standards, “Cambodia needs to find the good quality rice and supply China what China needs,” Saran said.
He added that diversifying export destinations, are critical to “transforming Cambodia’s rice industry”.
“It is very, very important to renew the MoU with China, otherwise we will not reach the one million tonnes target,” he said.
David Van, advisor to the Cambodia Rice Federation, told the Post on Sunday that the CRF has appealed to the minister of commerce to let them act as signatory during the next round of quota negotiations, instead of Green Trade, citing other food organisations that are in charge of similar arrangements.
“TREA in Thailand and Vinafood have both managed directly any quota with China and CRF is advocating for the same approach so that we could fairly and transparently reallocate any quota obtained among all CRF members accordingly,” said Van.
Export figures released by the CRF last week, showed that China was the biggest importer of Cambodian rice, importing 36,081 tonnes of rice, followed by Malaysia and France. Thanks largely to the boost in shipments to China, the Kingdom increased its exports in March to 75,867 tonnes, doubling the 37,676 tonnes produced in February.