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Cambodia eyes China rice quota deal in 1M-tonne export ambitions

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China increased its quota by 100,000 tonnes annually from 100,000 in 2016 to 400,000 in 2019 for jasmine, fragrant, white and broken varieties of Cambodian milled rice. Heng Chivoan

Cambodia eyes China rice quota deal in 1M-tonne export ambitions

The Kingdom plans to ask China to raise the annual quota on Cambodian milled rice imports to 500,000 tonnes, 100,000 tonnes more than the one it set in 2019, state-run news agency Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) reported on April 6.

China increased its quota by 100,000 tonnes annually from 100,000 in 2016 to 400,000 in 2019 for jasmine, fragrant, white and broken varieties of Cambodian milled rice.

Total Cambodian milled-rice exports last year weighed in at 690,829 tonnes, up by 11.40 per cent over 2019, figures from the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) show. Shipments to China reached 289,439 tonnes, or 41.90 per cent of the total and 72.36 per cent of the quota.

Milled-rice exports to China have generally increased each year from 127,460 tonnes in 2016 (127.46 per cent of the year’s quota), to 199,857 in 2017 (99.93 per cent of quota), dipping to 170,154 in 2018 (56.72 per cent of quota) and rebounding to 248,105 in 2019 (62.03 per cent of quota), according to CRF statistics.

CRF president Song Saran told The Post that a positive response from the Chinese government would better position the Kingdom to hit the coveted one-million-tonne mark for total exports.

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data show that total milled-rice exports came in at 387,000 tonnes in 2014, 538,396 in 2015, 542,144 in 2016, 635,679 in 2017, 626,225 in 2018 and 620,106 in 2019. Each figure has fallen short of the government’s pledge to export one million tonnes of rice per annum, originally made in August 2010 for 2015.

Saran said: “We’ve postulated that China would account for about 350,000-500,000 tonnes of milled rice per year. The CRF expects the additional Chinese orders for milled rice will propel the one-million-tonne-export ambition forward.”

With observers predicting that the transport crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic will cool in the second quarter of this year, this initiative will feel a swing in momentum, he said.

“We don’t believe the transport crisis will last until the end of 2021 – pressure on the shipping industry will ease in July-August in the second quarter. We expect a recovery in Cambodian milled-rice exports to the European market in the second half,” Saran said.

At the Strategic Plan 2020-2023 Consultation Workshop held in end-October 2019, the CRF renewed its commitment to passing the one-million-tonne mark by 2022.

Saran revealed at the workshop that the CRF had set target percentages for milled-rice shipments to international markets – divided into four main regions. Thirty-five per cent of all exports would go to China, 30 per cent to Europe, 30 per cent to other ASEAN countries and five per cent to other markets.

Broken down by category, luxury fragrant rice will account for 30 per cent, ordinary fragrant rice 40 per cent and ordinary rice 30 per cent, he said.

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