The Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) predicted that the value of rice exports to the European market may decline by around 10 per cent this year.
CRF president Song Saran said in a Facebook post that the value of rice exports to Europe was more than $200 million last year.
However, the federation predicts that the export value to the market will drop to around $180 million due to safeguards imposed by the EU earlier this year.
Among the more than 270,000 tonnes of rice exported to Europe last year, about 80 per cent was fragrant rice, said Saran.
Meanwhile, rice exports to China will rise through increased shipments of fragrant rice to correspond with the rising demand there.
“CRF will strive to [place Cambodia as one of the] top three rice exporters [to China from its current fourth-place position] with an estimated value of $160 million this year – up from $113 million in 2018,” said Saran.
Overall, CRF projected that the export value will reach around $430 million this year, he said.
Cambodia’s rice sector officially lost its import duty exemption granted by the EU in January after the bloc decided to impose tariffs on imports from the Kingdom and Myanmar to protect European rice farmers’ interests.
CRF vice-president Chan Sokheang told The Post that after the EU decided to impose tariffs on Cambodian rice earlier this year, the federation needed time to find additional markets.
Besides China, the CRF is also looking to expand the market for Cambodian rice to Australia, Canada, Africa and Arab countries, he said.
“We will expand the export of fragrant rice to African and Arab countries because they [Arab countries] are rich and consume a lot of Thai rice. I hope the markets we open will help offset losses from Europe,” he said.
Hun Lak, the managing director of Mekong Oryza Trading Co Ltd, a leading rice exporter in Cambodia, said that although rice exports to Europe may decline, exports to Asean countries and China would increase.
“[We are] dealing with Asean markets like Malaysia. They want Cambodian rice, especially fragrant rice,” he said.
A report from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality shows that Cambodia exported 308,013 tonnes of rice during the first seven months of this year, a 3.7 per cent increase year-on-year.
China was the leading market with 123,361 tonnes – a 94 per cent increase year-on-year.
Last year, China provided Cambodia with a 300,000-tonne rice quota. However, the Kingdom exported a mere 170,154 tonnes. Earlier this year China added another 100,000 tonnes to the quota, bringing the total to 400,000 tonnes.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries figures show that the country exported 626,225 tonnes of rice last year, decreasing 1.5 per cent from 635,679 tonnes in 2017.
The main destinations for rice exports were the EU with a total of 269,127 tonnes and China with 170,154 tonnes.