Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kingdom sees minimal change in rice exports between 2016-2018

Kingdom sees minimal change in rice exports between 2016-2018

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Cambodian farmer pushes his bicycle loaded with rice from the paddy field during the harvest season in Takeo province on November 29, 2008. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP

Kingdom sees minimal change in rice exports between 2016-2018

The Kingdom’s rice exports saw little change during the last three years to 2018 as the sector appears to face new challenges requiring the government and private sector to work harder to keep the industry healthy.

The challenges are centred around the EU market as the bloc imposes tariffs on Cambodia’s rice, added on to existing issues such as higher production costs and a lack of infrastructure.

However, industry insiders said the volume of this year’s rice exports will remain steady due to a new quota from China and Vietnam.

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries figures show that the Kingdom exported 626,225 tonnes of rice last year, decreasing 1.5 per cent from 635,679 tonnes in 2017.

The figures show that the main destinations were the EU with a total of 269,127 tonnes and China with 170,154 tonnes.

Cambodia exported 542,144 tonnes of rice in 2016, a 0.7 per cent increase from 2015. The nominal increase followed a growth spurt in 2015 that saw exports climb by 39 per cent from 387,000 tonnes in 2014.

Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd chairman and CEO Song Saran on Tuesday said the Kingdom’s export volumes were not higher due to focusing on premium rice – or fragrant rice – for the last three to four years.

Referring to the additional 100,000-tonne quota provided by China, Saran said Cambodia’s rice exports would not be hurt.

“The Kingdom’s rice exports this year could maintain a similar yield as last year because China agreed to buy more rice from us. That would push Cambodian’s premium rice market,” he said adding that the Kingdom exports almost 90 per cent of its premium rice to the international market.

Premium competition

Cambodian premium rice is sold from $950 to $960 per tonne while normal rice – or indica rice – is sold at about $420 per tonne, Saran said. However, he said Cambodia still faces challenges due to competition.

“We still need more time to promote our rice products to the international arena,” he said, adding that Cambodia’s agricultural sector is still young compared to leading countries.

Centre for Policy Studies director Chan Sophal said that while the country has missed its target export of one million tonnes since 2015, its rice exports stand at around 600,000 tonnes. He said the higher production costs and the lack of the sector’s infrastructure are limiting competition.

“For this year’s exports, [I] predict that they may not increase because tax needs to be paid to export Cambodia’s fragrant rice to the EU market,” he said.

Sophal said that while the government is trying to boost the sector by cutting production costs to improve its competitiveness, it needs to improve infrastructure – roads and irrigation systems.

Faced with the EU’s decision to impose import tariffs, Cambodia’s rice could face a much more serious issue if the EU’s preferential Everything But Arms agreement is withdrawn.

Sophal said it is preferable if the Kingdom diversifies its export destinations, rather than rely on any one market.

After the EU imposed tariffs on rice imported from Cambodia, China agreed in January to increase its import quota for Cambodian rice to 400,000 tonnes this year from the previous 300,000 tonnes.

The move was followed by Vietnam, which agreed this month to expand its import quota for the Kingdom’s rice to 300,000 tonnes.

Hun Lak, vice-president of the Cambodia Rice Federation and chairman of Mekong Oryza Trading Co Ltd, said the Kingdom currently has a G2G (government to government) agreement with only China and Vietnam, which allows duty-free rice exports.

He expressed his hope that Cambodia’s rice exports this year could yield a similar amount to last year, with Cambodia receiving a higher quota from China.

“By exporting to China, we could reach the target. The government is currently putting in place supporting measures to reduce production costs,” he said.

Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay said the ministry is always looking for new markets for the Kingdom’s products.

He said despite the Kingdom having quota agreements with only two countries, it is also working bilaterally with many others.

“Cambodia has good diplomatic relations. It currently exports to many destinations around the world,” he said.


  • US imposes sanctions on Oknha Pheap and Kun Kim

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed strong dismay on Monday over the designation of Cambodian tycoon Oknha Try Pheap and General Kun Kim under the US’ Global Magnitsky Act. “It is very disturbing when the public figures of a country become the

  • Mother, daughter killed in hotel fire

    The bodies of a mother and daughter were found locked in an embrace after they were killed in a hotel fire in Phnom Penh at around 3:30am on Wednesday at the Phkar Chhouk Tep 2 Hotel and Restaurant in Phsar Doeum Kor commune, in the capital’

  • EBA withdrawal a destruction of EU achievements, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the EU’s possible suspension of its Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement amounted to a destruction of its achievements in the Kingdom and the demise of the opposition group. Hun Sen made the remarks while addressing more than 6,700 students during

  • US told to refrain from interfering in Sokha case

    Senior Cambodian officials said on Thursday that the US can monitor Kem Sokha’s trial as it wishes but would not be allowed to interfere in court procedures. The point was made in response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on Wednesday

  • Europe expected to consider EBA efforts, impact

    The government said it expects the European Commission to consider its efforts to comply with the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) regulations and the impact on one million workers should access to the agreement be suspended in February. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

  • Sri Lanka’s LOLC Holdings plans to sell Cambodian unit

    LOLC Holdings Plc, Sri Lanka’s second-largest publicly traded company by revenue, plans to sell its 70 per cent stake in Prasac Microfinance Institution Ltd, which also counts Hong Kong’s Bank of East Asia Ltd. as a shareholder, LOLC deputy chairman Ishara Nanayakkara said. Nanayakkara