Vietnam's rice exporters urged to utilize FTAs to boost shipments

Vietnamese rice exporters have been urged to play a more active role in utilizing free trade agreements (FTAs) to which Vietnam is a party to boost falling exports.
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Vietnam's rice exporters urged to utilize FTAs to boost shipments
Farmers harvest rice in the southern province of Soc Trang on March 10, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyet Nhi.

The country exported 1.1 million tonnes of rice for $606 million in the first quarter of the year, down 30.4 percent and 17.4 percent, respectively, against the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The two largest buyers of Vietnamese rice in the reviewed period remained China and the Philippines.

Despite the fall in volume, rice export prices jumped from January to March on account of high demand for food reserves around the world, said Tran Quoc Toan, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s Agency of Foreign Trade.

By the end of March, Vietnam’s rice price remained at a high of $547 per tonne, up 18.6 percent, or $86, compared to a year earlier.

Rice exporters have been increasingly focusing on improving quality and traceability to meet the strict standards of markets such as the EU, the Republic of Korea (RoK), and the US, Toan said.

Vietnam has entered into various FTAs with strategic countries and regions, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), and, more recently, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA), Vietnamplus reported.

Vietnam's rice exporters urged to utilize FTAs to boost shipments
Farmers carry a bag of rice in southern Can Tho City. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tran.

He said that in order to utilize FTAs and boost the global market share of Vietnamese rice at more competitive prices, the ministry will continue to coordinate with ministries, branches, and the Vietnam Food Association to help businesses effectively implement deals and make the most of markets such as the RoK and the EU.

The MoIT will adopt mechanisms and policies to remove technical and trade barriers, internalize international commitments, customs procedures, logistics, and credit, and focus on branding to create a foundation for rice exporters to exploit foreign markets, Toan said.

He also urged rice exporters and farmers to be more active in improving product competitiveness in terms of quality and price as well as building and protecting Vietnamese trademarks, so as to diversify markets and promote sustainable export.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has forecast that Vietnam would maintain its position as the world’s second-biggest rice exporter this year.

According to the department, Vietnam will export 6.4 million tonnes of rice in 2021, an increase of 233,000 tonnes compared to the volume recorded in the previous year.

It is likely that India will remain the largest rice exporter in the world, with 15.5 million tonnes of rice shipped abroad this year. Thailand will rank third with an estimated export volume of 6.1 million tonnes.

Last year, Vietnam shipped abroad 6.15 million tonnes of rice worth $3.07 billion, down 3.5 percent in volume but up 9.3 percent in value year-on-year, Nhan Dan cited. Statistics show that in the first four months of this year, the country exported 1.89 million tonnes of rice, down 10.8 percent in volume but up 1.2 percent in value over the same period last year.

In 2020, Vietnam surpassed its competitors in selling prices, with an export volume of 6.15 million tons, earning $3.07 billion, officially overtaking Thailand to become the second-largest rice exporter in the world, after India.

The Vietnam Food Association said Vietnam’s rice export structure has shifted towards quality types with higher prices and added values.

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Malie Nguyen

Insider

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