Cambodia's largest rice exporters say they have begun securing their first orders from Chinese buyers, with shipments slated for later this year.
Loran Import Export Company has secured contracts to export 240 tonnes of fragrant rice at US$890 in October, its President Lim Bun Heng said.
“Previously the company has never exported rice to China – only to European and African markets,” he said.
However, with its expanding population, he reckons China will become an important market for Cambodia’s rice exporters in the future.
“I think China will be a big market in the future, because this country has a large number of people, and increasing demand for rice,” he said.
Golden Rice Company Chan Vuthy said his firm was scheduled to export between 100 and 200 tonnes of fragrant rice in September, though the orders were still to be confirmed.
“China’s market has lots of potential as an export destination, particularly as transportation costs are cheaper than sending to European and American markets,” he said.
However, he expressed concern that the order had not yet been confirmed, asking the relevant ministries work to sort out required regulations to allow Cambodian exports to proceed to China.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Rice Department Director Ngin Chhay said Cambodia firms had not yet exported rice to China. Exports could begin this year, provided Chinese authorities approved the quality of Cambodian rice.
“We believe that China will have demand for our rice because it has recently faced natural disasters, droughts and floods,” he said. “On the other hand, it also needs more rice.”
Last August, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a policy to increase rice exports to 1 million tonnes by 2015.
Statistics show Cambodia exported just over 100,000 tonnes in 2010.
At the end of March, Ministry of Economy and Finance Secretary of State Hang Chuon Naron said acheiving the goal of 1 million tonnes would require investments of $350 million over four years.
He said Cambodia had the capacity to produce about 200,000 tonnes of export-quality rice, as the Kingdom lacked capital and milling capacity.