Cambodia earned more than $850.4 million from the overseas sale of milled and paddy rice in the first nine months of the year, as insiders report moderate levels of impact on the industry from elevated oil prices and other global headwinds.
Over the January-September period, the Kingdom exported 449,325 tonnes and 2,357,674 tonnes of milled and paddy rice, respectively, worth $286.90 million and $563.54 million, the former of which marked a 10 per cent rise in terms of tonnage.
This is according to the latest data from the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body, which was seen by The Post on October 10.
Of note, then-Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon late last year reported the milled and paddy rice export figures for the corresponding period in 2021 at $349.92 million and $428.95 million without mentioning the tonnage involved.
Although he cited National Phytosanitary Database (NPD) statistics compiled by the agriculture ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture based on exporters’ invoices, there have been known to be significant discrepancies between NPD and CRF numbers.
CRF secretary-general Lun Yeng told The Post that the Kingdom’s milled rice exports have remained on a growth trajectory despite regional and global headwinds created by a double whammy of prolonged Covid-19-related stress, and tensions tied to the Ukraine conflict that weigh on global demand.
According to the CRF, premium fragrant rice varieties accounted for the lion’s share of January-September milled rice exports at 177,481 tonnes, or 39.50 per cent, followed by fragrant rice (128,753 tonnes; 28.65 per cent) – exclusively of Sen Kra’op types, long grain white rice (123,318 tonnes; 27.45 per cent), parboiled rice (10,680 tonnes; 2.38 per cent) and organic rice (8,160 tonnes; 1.82 per cent). More than 900 tonnes (0.2 per cent) were of other varieties.
Yeng commented that global inflation is exerting downward pressure on consumer spending, sapping demand for Cambodian aromatic rice. On the other hand, sales of long grain white rice to Europe have been on an upswing after the EU lifted its tariffs on Indica rice from the Kingdom in January.
He was referring to the three-year rice import tariffs, known as safeguard measures, that were imposed by the EU in January 2019 after its executive arm found that Indica rice from Cambodia and Myanmar allegedly caused “economic damage” to European rice producers.
The tax was set at €175 ($170 today) per tonne in 2019, regressing to €150 per tonne in 2020 and €125 per tonne in 2021.
The CRF reported that the nine-month period’s milled rice exports went to 55 markets, the top nine of which accounted for more than 82 per cent, led by China at 44.09 per cent, followed by France (14.83 per cent), Malaysia (5.58 per cent), Netherlands (4.65 per cent), Italy (2.65 per cent), Gabon (2.63 per cent), Brunei (2.44 per cent), the UK (2.25 per cent) and Germany (2.08 per cent).
Meanwhile, “Andy” Lay Chhun Hour, group president and CEO of City Rice Import Export Co Ltd, a major rice miller based in Battambang province, predicts that declining shipping costs would drive up exports going forward.
He elaborated that the per-container cost of moving merchandise to China and European countries have seen a dramatic fall from their peaks of $600-700 and $8,000, respectively, to $250-300 and $3,000. He told The Post on October 10 that his company exported 66,000 tonnes of milled rice in the first nine months of this year.