The Ministry of Commerce is in advanced stages of negotiating a deal for the export of 500,000 tonnes of rice in 2023-24, according to minister Pan Sorasak. This seventh memorandum of understanding (MoU) is expected to be signed shortly.

The minister made his remarks while presiding over the opening ceremony of the Cambodian milled rice market to the Philippines on June 26 at the ministry headquarters.

“We have discussed and established bilateral special arrangements with countries, especially China, where we have achieved growth in exports to the Chinese market. Currently, the ministry is negotiating the procedure for the signing of the seventh MoU in the amount of 500,000 tonnes for 2023-24, which is scheduled to be signed in the near future. We hope to help increase Cambodia’s milled rice exports even more,” Sorasak said.

The rice sector has been a priority of the government, underlining the need for significant investment to expand the Cambodian milled rice market abroad.

“In fact, at the recent ASEAN summit [in Indonesia], the prime minister further requested countries, including the Philippines and others, to help buy milled rice from Cambodia. He also requested New Zealand to invest in the development of key infrastructure for the rice sector, warehousing, drying silos and additional processing in Cambodia to export milled rice to international markets,” said the minister.

Sorasak added that negotiating milled rice export contracts involves complex discussions on terms and prices. However, he also indicated plans to explore further markets, citing Singapore’s potential as an important distribution hub for Asia, the Middle East and other regions.

“So if we can penetrate the Singapore market, we can reach the Central Asian market to Europe and so on,” he explained.

Chan Sokheang, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), hailed the ministry and the CRF’s progress, as the Chinese market quota has already reached 400,000 tonnes.

“Reaching one million tonnes is the goal we aim to achieve by 2025. So from now on, we substantially start to plan our strategy. In October, there will be an exhibition in Cologne, Germany, one of the top food shows in the world,” he said.

Supporting the export expansion plans, Chan Pich, general manager of Signatures of Asia, highlighted the strength of the Chinese market, applauding the rise in milled rice purchases from Cambodia.

“The Chinese market absorbs a lot of our Cambodian milled rice and is a market with a high demand for quantity. I applaud it because we gain more quotas to export more Cambodian milled rice to the Chinese market and local rice millers may have more markets,” Pich noted.

According to the CRF’s latest export report, Cambodia generated nearly $737 million from the export of milled rice and paddy to 49 countries and territories in the first five months of this year, with China and the EU ranking as the first and second largest buyers.

The Kingdom shipped 278,184 tonnes of milled rice worth $191.64 million via 48 exporters, as well as 2,142,483 tonnes of paddy (equivalent to 1.37 million tonnes of milled rice) to the tune of $545.26 million.