Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said Cambodia plans to export an additional 2,500 tonnes of milled rice to the Philippines soon, following the successful import of 2,575 tonnes at the end of May.

While addressing a celebration of the opening of the Philippines market to Cambodian milled rice on June 26, Sorasak noted that opening the potential of the Philippine market was a significant achievement for the Kingdom.

“The Philippines is a major importer of milled rice. The Cambodia Rice Federation [CRF] described it as the fourth largest in the world and second in Asia, with more than three million tonnes of imports per year. Previously, Cambodian milled rice made only a small contribution to this market, with just 400 tonnes exported in the previous five years,”

The minister noted that as the Philippines experiences frequent natural disasters, it needs to import from three to four million tonnes of milled rice per annum to meet domestic demand.

He added that along with entering new markets, the government, through the commerce ministry, also pays close attention to the rice sector’s key infrastructure issues.

He said that during last year’s ASEAN Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen requested that several countries, including the Philippines, buy milled rice from Cambodia. He also requested that New Zealand invest in the development of key infrastructure such as warehousing, drying silos and additional processing hardware.

CRF president Chan Sokheang explained that Cambodia exported 300 tonnes of milled rice to the Philippines in 2020, and an additional 100 tonnes in 2021.

“We believe that the initial agreement of 2,575 tonnes is a good start to the Cambodia-Philippines milled rice trade. We will work hard to promote Cambodian rice, and hope to attract more Philippine consumers,” he said.

“The federation has set the goal of equaling at least one per cent of the Philippines’ total imports in the near future,” he added.

Kim Savuth, CEO of Khmer Foods Group, the company which handled the export of the 2,575 tonnes that were dispatched to the Philippines in May, said Cambodia’s main competitors were Vietnam and Thailand, the two largest exporters of milled rice to the Philippines.

“The Philippines has been a major importer for many years, while Cambodia has produced a surplus for decades, so this should be a harmonious relationship. I hope that this model will be applied to future efforts to expand Cambodia’s milled rice markets. Solidarity between the government and the private sector will bring significant growth to the Kingdom’s exports,” he said.