Cambodia plans to export rice to East Timor next month to meet the country’s growing demand amid the Covid-19 outbreak, making it the newest market for the Kingdom’s rice, Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) chairman and former vice-president Hun Lak told The Post on Sunday.
East Timor on Friday expressed its interest in importing the crop at a meeting between state-owned Green Trade Company, the Ministry of Commerce and the CRF with newly-appointed Ambassador of East Timor to Cambodia Ermenegildo ‘Kupa’ Lopes, he said.
“We could export rice to East Timor as soon as May. I believe that we can initially export some $10 million worth of rice to the country,” said Lak.
He said the East Timor side will soon send an official letter to the Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation outlining the timing, quantity, types of rice, shipping and other conditions of the trade.
He added that Vietnam’s tightening restrictions on rice exports to curb food shortages during the pandemic had led East Timor to strike a deal with the Kingdom instead.
The move comes as the government and the CRF strive to find new markets for the Kingdom’s rice to deliver a quarter-on-quarter rise in exports in the second quarter.
“We hope that this year’s rice exports will be higher than last year, while the rice is better than the previous year and the price of rice from farmers is also reasonably high,” said Lak.
Cambodia exported 230,948 tonnes of rice worth $161 million in the first three months of this year, up 35.20 per cent from the same period last year, said a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report.
Figures show that during the period, the Kingdom exported 101,345 tonnes of rice to China, up 34.88 per cent year-on-year; 70,040 tonnes to Europe, up 30.33 per cent year-on-year; 28,799 tonnes to Asean, up 12.47 per cent year-on-year; and 30,764 tonnes to other markets, up 13.32 per cent year-on-year.
Meanwhile, East Timor imported 6,800 tonnes of rice in the first two months of this year, around 5,000 tonnes less than the year-ago period, data from the Port Authority of Timor-Leste (Aportil) shows.
Cambodia exported 620,106 tonnes of milled rice last year, down 0.97 per cent from 2018, ministry data shows.