The Russia-Ukraine war will have no significant influence on Cambodian milled-rice exports, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF).
Fierce fighting is underway in Ukraine after Moscow ordered troops into the country late last month, in what it called a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its neighbour. Concerns have been raised about potential supply chain disruptions as a result of the war or sanctions levied against Moscow and Russian entities.
CRF secretary-general Lun Yeng argued that neither Eastern European country was a major buyer of Cambodian milled-rice, and hinted that the ongoing conflict and associated events would be highly unlikely to substantially disrupt the routes used to move the staple grain around the world, or affect orders from other markets.
According to the CRF, Cambodia shipped just 17,512 tonnes of milled rice to Russia in the five years from 2017-2021, or 0.549 per cent of the total 3.190 million tonnes exported globally over the period. Last year alone, Russia bought 2,223 tonnes – worth $1,963,640 – or 0.360 per cent of the global total of 617,069 tonnes.
In January and February this year, the Kingdom shipped 200 tonnes of milled rice to Russia – worth $200,640 – or 0.19 per cent of the global total export volume for the two months.
By contrast, milled-rice exports to Ukraine over 2017-2021 clocked in at just 572 tonnes, CRF statistics indicate.
CRF president Song Saran (pictured, CRF) echoed Yeng’s sentiment, saying the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine would have no significant impact on Cambodia’s overall milled-rice exports, given that sales to the two warring nations remain weak.
However, problems that continue to plague the industry in 2022 include a shortage of the 20-foot containers that are customarily used to move the crop, and rising shipping costs, especially to the EU market, he told The Post on March 6.
These challenges have motivated the CRF to actively seek to diversify milled-rice export destination markets, placing a greater focus on mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, along with ASEAN countries, he said.
“Through the efforts of the Cambodia Rice Federation, we’re seeing a steady climb in milled-rice exports to regional countries, especially Malaysia,” Saran added.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported that Cambodia exported a total 103,058 tonnes of milled rice to international markets in January-February, increasing by 26,836 tonnes or 35.21 per cent year-on-year, from 76,222 tonnes.
China was the largest buyer of Cambodian milled rice over the two months, accounting for 56,385 tonnes, up by 49.84 per cent year-on-year, followed by 20 European countries (26,507 tonnes; up 39.54 per cent), three ASEAN countries (9,370 tonnes; up 50.43 per cent), and 16 other countries and territories (10,796 tonnes; down 19.23 per cent).
Last year, Cambodia exported a total 617,069 tonnes of milled rice – down 10.68 per cent over 2020 – worth $418 million to 56 countries and territories, as well as 3,527,418 tonnes of paddy valued – up 61.16 per cent year-on-year – at $845.95 million, according to the ministry.