THE Small and Medium Industries Association of Cambodia began exporting 1,668 tonnes of rice worth nearly US$600,000 to four European markets on Monday.
The exports fulfill $583,000 in previous agreements to sell 900 tonnes of rice to Lithuania, 480 tonnes to Poland, 240 tonnes to Russia, and 48 tonnes to Estonia, association secretary general Outh Renne said Monday.
The shipments will depart from Sihanoukville Autonomous Port from June 21 to 30.
“We hope to reach more agreements to export rice to European markets in the coming months,” he added.
Department of Trade Statistics and Information director Kong Putheara said that many Cambodian companies are already exporting small amounts of rice to the European Union.
This, he said, is due to tax preferences granted to least-developed countries (LDC) through the EU’s generalised system of preferences (GSP) legislation.
“We hope that Cambodian companies will be able to export more rice to European markets in the future because they are now updating their rice-processing technology in order to produce more international-quality rice,” Kong Putheara said.
Cambodian Small and Medium Industries Association says it exported 5,026 tonnes of rice in the first five months of the year.
Outh Renne said rice exports cannot presently be conducted on a larger scale because local firms do not have the capital to buy and store paddy at the level enjoyed by neighbouring countries.
“Our capital is [only] enough to buy at most 10,000 tonnes of rice to store because no loans are available for this,” he said.
Cambodia has seen investment totalling nearly $900 million to buy 3.1 million tonnes of paddy so far this year, according to a draft document for government policy in the sector.
Of this amount, $631 million was invested by foreign traders, and another $245 million was spent by local firms, the Options for Cambodia Rice Exports draft report said.
It also estimated that some $58 million is presently spent buying paddy for export.
In April, Prime Minister Hun Sen axed rice export licences in a bid to boost sales of the Kingdom’s “white gold”.
Previously, traders who wanted to sell more than 200 tonnes of the grain had to apply for a permit.