Rice exports have been flourishing with a surge in turnover. The recently signed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) among 11 Asia-Pacific nations will provide added opportunities for these exports.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s latest data show that in the first quarter of the year, rice exports reached more than 1.2 million tonnes at a value of about US$700 million, an increase of over 60 percent in volume and value compared to the same period last year.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, rice was one of three commodity groups recording export growth in February - the month when Vietnam celebrated the Lunar New Year. In addition, the structure of export rice has shifted towards a reduction in the low- and middle-quality segment and an increase in the high-quality segment. Since the end of 2017, export rice prices have continuously increased and are currently higher than those of competitors such as Thailand, Pakistan and India.
Experts say the shift towards a reduction in the low- and middle-quality rice segment and an increase in the high-quality rice segment is required to match the current consumption trend in the world. The CPTPP is expected to provide powerful motivation to promote this shift. Le Quoc Phuong, former deputy director of the Information Center of Commerce and Industry, said that in addition to the obvious advantages in terms of reduced tariffs, the CPTPP would also pose many challenges because non-trade barriers will require exporters to further improve their product quality.
However, the pact will help attract more foreign investment, creating a driving force to improve the quality of Vietnamese products, including rice.
At a recent reception for Masayoshi Fujimoto, president and CEO of Japan’s Sojitz Corporation, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc hailed the group for its productive investments in many projects, citing its initiative to produce high-quality rice, contributing to Vietnam’s agricultural economy development.
Vietnamese Trade Representative in Australia Nguyen Thi Hoang Thuy said SunRice - Australia’s largest rice producer, plans to invest US$100-200 million to conduct research and development of rice varieties in Vietnam. SunRice’s investment will help Vietnam get access to modern farming methods in order to produce high-quality rice. In addition, with its extensive distribution network, opportunities to increase rice exports are huge. At present, SunRice imports about 50 percent of Vietnamese Japonica rice.