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East Timor rice exports ready to roll

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East Timor will soon begin importing Cambodian rice for the first time. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

East Timor rice exports ready to roll

Cambodia is prepared to export 30,000 tonnes of milled rice to East Timor soon, which will open a promising new market for the rice sector.

At an April 17 meeting with the Green Trade Company, under the Ministry of Commerce, and the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), Ambassador of East Timor to Cambodia Ermenegildo ‘Kupa’ Lopes proposed a plan for the Kingdom to start exporting rice to East Timor.

At a meeting with Lopes on Tuesday, Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said Cambodia was now ready to start the project.

He said: “Cambodia has already prepared 30,000 tonnes of rice for export to East Timor and has asked it for feedback.”

He also urged East Timor’s private sector to invest in a rice mill in the Kingdom.

Lopes said East Timor is intent on importing rice from Cambodia and added that East Timor could export crops to the Kingdom as well.

He also mentioned that his country could provide 3,000 fuel sector jobs to Cambodians.

CRF president Song Saran told The Post on Wednesday that Cambodia has enough white rice stockpiled to meet East Timor’s demand.

He said: “With the efforts of the Cambodian government, we hope that East Timor will become a new strong market for Cambodian rice exporters.”

He added that East Timor has never bought rice from Cambodia and historically relied on Vietnam to satisfy its demand.

CRF board chairman Hun Lak told The Post in April that East Timor had first offered to buy rice from Cambodia to prevent a food shortage due to Covid-19. The country has yet to specify an amount.

Lak said the government had requested East Timor to send a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation outlining the specifications of their order.

At a meeting with Lopes on May 27, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia wants East Timor to set up a representative office for its rice-purchasing companies in the Kingdom.

He said he wanted the companies to build warehouses, factories and silos as well as establish purchasing channels to facilitate rice exports to East Timor.

Rice export reports show that in the first five months of this year, Cambodia exported 356,097 tonnes of rice to the international market, a 42.34 per cent year-on-year increase.

Last year, the Kingdom exported 250,172 tonnes of rice worth $241 million.

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, Port Authority of Timor-Leste data shows.

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