China has set an export quota for milled rice at 400,000 tonnes for a period of 17 months from December 2021, after the previous contract of the same volume and duration expired, according to a Ministry of Commerce spokesman.

Pen Sovicheat told The Post on December 23 that if the Kingdom can meet the quota ahead of schedule, China would be willing to increase the amount to 500,000 tonnes in the subsequent period.

The decision comes after leaders of both countries reached an agreement at a virtual meeting last month, he noted.

Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) president and Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd CEO Song Saran welcomed the follow-up export quota, noting that China offers a number of potential new markets for the Kingdom’s rice sector.

“We applaud the government’s efforts in reaching a new memorandum of understanding [MoU] in line with the Chinese side’s commitment to buying Cambodian milled rice. This is glad tidings for Cambodia, and a shot to diversify into Chinese markets,” he said.

CRF vice-president and Signatures of Asia Co Ltd CEO of Chan Sokheang heralded the deal as the fruit of cooperation between the federation and the Green Trade Company – a state-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Commerce.

And that combined effort was guided by advice and insights from the commerce and finance ministers on how to meet the quotas and overcome past shortcomings, he said.

“In the MoU, there is a paragraph stating that if we’re able to export 400,000 tonnes, they [China] will proceed to increase the quota to between 400,000 and 500,000 tonnes,” he pointed out.

He also shared that Signatures of Asia shipped about 17,000 tonnes of milled rice abroad this year, although exclusively to Europe.

However, Saran underscored that if the quota is to be met on or ahead of schedule, Cambodia and China must first hammer out a number of specifics, including arrangements to facilitate transactions and a host of transport-related challenges.

Cambodia sold 12 per cent more milled rice to China in the first 11 months of 2021 than over the same period last year, he said, adding that the Chinese market absorbed about half of the Kingdom’s exports of the commodity – or 49.84 per cent according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The commerce ministry’s Sovicheat contended that the two countries’ leaders have ironed out the most pressing of the challenges confronting exporters through a series of meetings, offering as an example a shortage in shipping containers primarily caused by Covid.

In January-November, Cambodia globally exported 532,179 tonnes of milled rice, down by 11.46 per cent year-on-year from 601,045 tonnes, raking in $454,480,866, the agriculture ministry reported.

The ministry listed the buyers of Cambodian milled rice as: China (265,244 tonnes, up 12.90 per cent year-on-year), 22 EU countries (134,438 tonnes, down 28.66 per cent), seven ASEAN countries (54,350 tonnes, down 30.51 per cent) and 24 other markets (78,147 tonnes, down 21.43 per cent).