Rice exporters told to meet Chinese quality requirements as shipments slump

Monday, Aug 27, 2018 08:55

Rice bags are loaded into a vessel at a port in HCM City for export. — VNA/VNS Photo

To sustain their rice exports to China, a large buyer, Vietnamese firms need to focus on meeting food safety and traceability requirements and carry on official instead of border trade, according to experts.

According to the Department of Agro-product Processing and Market Development, Viet Nam’s rice exports were estimated at 3.9 million tonnes worth nearly US$2 billion over the first seven months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 12.2 per cent and 29.2 per cent.

China continued to be the biggest importer of Vietnamese rice, accounting for 26.8 per cent, followed by Indonesia (18.2 per cent) and the Philippines (10.4 per cent).

But exports to China were down 27.7 per cent in volume and 14.6 per cent in value from the same period last year.

A total of 891,000 tonnes were shipped, with sticky rice accounting for a large share.

In July China raised import tariffs on rice from ASEAN member countries, including to 50 per cent on sticky rice from the earlier 5 per cent.

As a result Viet Nam’s exports dropped sharply.

Another reason was stricter control by Chinese agencies, which raised the plant quarantine standards for exporters.

Nguyen Thi Mai Linh of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s import-export department said exporters met with certain difficulties after China adjusted tariffs on ASEAN rice.

Enterprises said they do not have many new contracts for sticky rice and are mainly fulfilling earlier contracts.

They have called on farmers to reduce the cultivation of sticky rice and switch to other varieties to avoid too much dependence on China. Currently, more than 80 per cent of sticky rice goes to China.

A spokesperson for a rice export firm said Viet Nam and China share a long-border and so for a long time rice was largely exported through the border.

But the Chinese side now wants to control border trade to better manage quality and avoid tax losses and has instructed importers to do official imports, he said.

Therefore, to keep this market, Vietnamese firms need to ensure compliance with China’s food safety and traceability requirements, he said.

But they should diversify their markets to avoid too much reliance on that market, he said.

To help promote exports to China, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has invited 15 rice importers from China to discuss direct exports. — VNS

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