Vietnam’s rice exports to China enjoy surge in the first quarter of 2021

China has moved to increase its import of rice from several Asian countries, including Vietnam, during the opening months of the year.
May 11, 2021 | 08:51
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According to data given by the Chinese General Administration of Customs, the Asian giant imported a total of 910,000 tonnes of rice worth $434.15 million over the first two months of the year, representing a sharp increase of 203.3% in volume and a rise of 180.6% in value compared to the same period from last year.

Of the total, Vietnamese rice exports to China surged by 206.3% against last year’s corresponding period.

Most notably, China's rice imports from Pakistan reached the highest level, with turnover climbing to $127.61 million, representing an annual rise of 339.7% and accounting for 29.4% of its total rice imports.

Vietnam’s rice exports to China enjoy surge in the first quarter of 2021
Rice for export being stockpiled. Photo: VNA/VNS

China's rice imports from other markets, including Myanmar and Thailand, also increased sharply by 220.4% and 83%, respectively.

During the first quarter of the year, Vietnamese rice exports to China reached 256,516 tonnes worth $136.17 million, up 58% in volume and 49.7% in turnover compared to the same period from last year, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Last year saw China consume 752,300 tonnes of Vietnamese rice worth $431.7 million, up 91.6%.

Rice exports enjoy opportunities for breakthrough in 2021

High hopes are pinned on Vietnam’s rice exports in 2021 when major export markets such as the Philippines and Africa continue to sign contracts to buy rice from Vietnam, while many others have great demand for fragrant rice and sticky rice – which are advantageous staples of Vietnamese enterprises.

The bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements between Vietnam and other countries such as the EU-Vietnam and the UK-Vietnam FTAs with preferential tariffs would create favorable conditions for Vietnamese rice to compete with that from rival countries, the Vietnam Food Association said.

According to the Vietnamese Trade Counsellor in the UK Nguyễn Cảnh Cường, rice shipments to the country this year will sharply rise against 2020. He added more UK firms will purchase Vietnamese rice under the UK-Vietnam FTA, creating a chance for Vietnamese rice to expand its market share in the UK this year.

Vietnam’s rice exports to China enjoy surge in the first quarter of 2021
Illustrative photo: VNA

In 2019, rice exports from Vietnam to the UK had a leap forward with a turnover growth of 376 percent. That meant the UK has great potential as a rice export market for Vietnam, Vietnamnews reported.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said it would provide rice export firms with information about the market demand situation in a timely manner while implementing trade promotion activities to help Vietnamese rice exporters better access customers.

It suggested rice exporters focus on high quality products with good export results, ensuring food hygiene and safety to be able to enter fastidious markets such as Europe, America and Canada.

As part of its efforts to facilitate Vietnam's rice exports, the VAF has built up online sales channel and participated in online trade seminars to develop the rice industry.

Experts have said that if Vietnam wants to maintain rice export growth in 2021 it needs to focus on building a complete rice value chain and controlling quality in production, processing, and distribution.

Vietnam’s rice exports to China enjoy surge in the first quarter of 2021
Illustrative photo: VOV

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam’s rice output totaled 42.8 million tonnes in 2020, down about 0.2 percent because of the shrinkage of some 192,000 hectares in farming areas. However, the productivity rose 50kg per hectare from a year earlier.

The country exported 6.15 tonnes of rice for $3.07 billion last year, down 3.5 percent in volume but up 9.3 percent in value year-on-year.

Vice chairman of the VFA, Do Ha Nam described 2020 as a successful year for Vietnam’s rice exports, which he attributed to increasing demand in many countries and the improved competitiveness of Vietnamese rice around the world.

Amid the difficulties posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, rice exporters quickly made appropriate adjustments and actively sought new markets while fully tapping into the advantages brought about by FTAs.

The EU-Vietnam FTA had created a major opportunity for Vietnamese rice to enter European markets and then make inroads into other choosy markets, Nam said.

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