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Kingdom verges on massive rice deal

THE Philippines aims to buy up to 300,000 tonnes of rice from Cambodia, an official said, as the Kingdom’s leading rice firm prepares for talks with agro-investment officers on Tuesday.

Baitang Kampuchea Plc (BKP), which works with 350 rice mills across the Kingdom, is set to meet Philippine officials next week to discuss the possibility of exporting rice to the country – reported to be the world’s biggest buyer of the grain.

Ny Lyheng, deputy general manager of BKP, said yesterday: “Under this meeting, we hope that the company will receive orders for a large amount of rice in the future.”

Pablito Villegas, agribusiness investment officer for the Philippines’ first trade mission to Cambodia, told Philippine news outlet GMA News TV yesterday that the nation wished to buy from 200,000 to 300,000 tonnes of Cambodian rice.

At about US$310 per tonne of 25 percent broken rice, this would amount to $93 million.

Ny Lyheng said that BKP would be able to supply the Philippines with more than the anticipated amount if it wanted ‘simple’ rice, which was not a specialised varity.

“We are unclear about what kind of rice the Philippines wants us to supply because the discussion has not been conducted yet,” Ny Lyheng said.

In April, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported that Cambodia had a 2.4 million-tonne rice surplus for export.

But the Commerce Ministry’s secretary of state, Mao Thaura, said yesterday that the country was able to supply only 500,000 tonnes of simple rice because the capacity of processing plants is still limited.

“It will be good if the Philippines is able to buy rice from Cambodia because the country is a big regional importer,” Mao Thaura added.

In June, an official at the Filipino National Food Authority told Bloomberg that the country planned to import 2.47 million tonnes of rice this year.

Outh Renne, secretary general of the Cambodian Small and Medium Industries Association, said yesterday that the Philippines had also signed
an agreement to buy 250,000 tonnes of rice from Vietnam this year.

A spokeswoman at the Philippines’ embassy in Phnom Penh declined to comment yesterday.

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