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July 2024

Cambodia’s rice exports to China look to jump

Minister of Commerce Cham Nimul announced that her ministry is currently negotiating a 20% increase in the export of Cambodian milled rice to China. The most recently agreed-upon quota was 400,000 tonnes in a 17-month period, which expired in June.

Nimul provided updates on the negotiations during a meeting to review the results of 2023 and set the direction for the ministry in 2024.

During the December 22 meeting, she explained that the ministry is currently negotiating a seventh memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China for milled rice exports. If successful, the new MoU will result in a 20 per cent increase for 2023-24.

“This is part of the implementation of the Cambodia Trade Integration Strategy CTIS 2019-23, which focuses on strengthening existing markets and expanding new ones. This is combined with the diversification of goods and markets through the signing of a bilateral free trade agreement [FTA] between Cambodia and China, as well as other bilateral and multilateral FTAs,” she said.

The minister emphasised the close attention paid by the government to making Cambodia’s rice sector more competitive. She said it has provided tax incentives, exempting all kinds of taxes and duties for rice millers and exporters since 2011 and extending this for another five years for expired enterprises.

“The commerce ministry is working to promote and open up markets for rice and rice products through the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement [CCFTA], the Cambodia-Korea Free Trade Agreement [CKFTA], the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP] and the Cambodia-United Arab Emirates Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement [CAM-UAE CEPA],” she said.

Addressing the closing ceremony, Prime Minister Hun Manet noted that during his recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he had discussed an increase in milled rice exports to the Chinese market. 

“[Xi] agreed to a 20 per cent increase … We need to continue to negotiate and do our best to ensure the results we want to materialise,” he said. 

Manet also encouraged the ministry to continue to pay attention to strengthening existing markets and expanding new ones, noting that it is an important task that must be implemented correctly at all times.

“Losing market share is not a good thing for Cambodian products. We need to maintain existing markets by guaranteeing supply and quality, while also ensuring the reliability and increase in supply of export goods step-by-step, for the benefit of Cambodia,” he said.

“In the past, we had some problems in Europe, but now we are negotiating for the export of some products. Some destination markets may require some technical modifications. For example, consumers may not know which company they are buying from, but they will know if it is imported from Cambodia. If one company violates our standards, it could damage our reputation in new markets,” he added.

Chan Sokheang, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) – the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body – noted that the most recent sixth quota for exporting milled rice to China began in December 2021. He understood that the two sides are still negotiating some technical specifications.

“The provision of quotas for milled rice imports from Cambodia by our Chinese friends has helped boost the development of our rice sector. From 2014 to 2021, China has already provided quotas six times. With the 7th quota, we hope that the additional 20 per cent will further boost the growth of rice exports,” he added.

The first quota, agreed in August 2014, covered 100,000 tonnes. The figure has climbed steadily ever since.

According to the CRF, in the first 10 months of 2023, Cambodia exported nearly 530,000 tonnes of milled rice, worth $377 million. Fifty-seven registered exporters sent milled rice to 59 destinations, including 177,285 tonnes which were exported to China.

Van Socheata

The Phnom Penh Post

Asia News Network QR Code

Published Date: December 26, 2023

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