Viet Nam will focus on Africa, West and South Asian markets to boost rice exports amidst harsh competition anticipated this year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Those markets saw rising demands for rice, the ministry's Department of Africa, Western and Southern Asia Markets said.
The department cited statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, which stated that rice consumption in Africa, with a population of more than 1 billion, was estimated at some 24 million tonnes per year and rising.
Since 2009, Africa has imported 8-10 million tonnes of rice annually, worth between US$3.5-5 billion.
The department pointed out that import demands for rice in West and Southern Asia were also high. However, currently many countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bangladesh, mainly imported rice from Thailand or India.
Statistics from the Viet Nam General Department of Customs showed that, as of November 2014, Vietnamese rice was exported to 46 of 78 markets in Africa, Western and Southern Asia markets, with a total turnover of about US$410 million.
Rice exports to major markets, including Ivory Coast, Angola, and Cameroon, however, declined sharply last year due to price competition from Thailand, India and Pakistan.
The decline was also attributed to the impact from the Ebola epidemic, which struck several West Africa countries.
The ministry believes there are significant potentials for Viet Nam to expand rice exports into these markets this year.
Among measures being undertaken to boost rice exports, the ministry said, included negotiating memoranda of understanding (MoU) to sell rice to the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Angola, Mozambique and Madagascar.
Also, marketing and promotional efforts would be strengthened, while co-ordination with other governmental agencies involved in agro-forestry-fisheries exports would be improved.
Support to provide market information and opportunities, along with the establishment of warehouses in major markets, such as Cameroon, Angola, and Mozambique, would also be provided to make it easier for Vietnamese exporters to expand into those markets.
2014 was a difficult year for rice exports from Viet Nam due to the impact of oversupply, high inventories and significant pressure from the competition, besides the impact from El Nino, Ebola and political unrest in several regions.
Statistics showed that as of November, rice export from Viet Nam reached 6.062 million tonnes, valued at US2.8 billion, down 2.3 per cent in volume, while up 2.6 per cent in value. Rice exports for the full year were expected to be 6.5 million tonnes.
As difficulties for rice exports were expected to continue this year, the ministry urged keeping a close watch on market fluctuations and expanding exports to new and potential market, while enhancing the quality of Vietnamese rice.
Mexico imposes 20 per cent tax on rice imports Beginning January 9, Vietnamese rice included a tax rate of 20 per cent when imported to Mexico and a rate of 9 per cent was applied on paddy-raised rice.
The tax increase seeks to protect Mexico's rice production, after Mexican rice cultivation declined by nearly 88 per cent after the country's free trade policies in rice imports came into force.
The Viet Nam Food Association noted that Mexico was a new potential customer for rice exports from Viet Nam. — VNS