Rice exports could reach a record high of 7.5 – 7.7 million tonnes this year, with shipments in the two remaining months exceeding a million tonnes, according to the Vietnam Food Association.
Businesses had exported 6.48 million tonnes of rice for a free-on-board value of US$ 2.87 billion in the first 10 months of the year, VFA deputy chairman Pham Van Bay said at a conference here Friday.
This represented an increase of 2.71 per cent in volume but a fall of 5.85 per cent in value over the same period last year.
Export of high-grade rice accounted for nearly half the shipments made in the first 10 months.
Countries in Asia and Africa were the main buyers of Vietnamese rice, accounting for 67.5 per cent and 24.7 per cent of the total export volume respectively.
As of October, enterprises had signed contracts to export nearly 7.65 million tonnes of rice, meaning more than one million tonnes of rice must be shipped in November and December, Bay said.
Total rice exports for the year, therefore, could reach 7.5 million tonnes or even 7.7 million tonnes, depending on new export contracts signed this month, said Truong Thanh Phong, VFA chairman.
However, enterprises have expressed concern that exporting 7.7 million tonnes of rice could push up domestic rice prices, reducing further the competitiveness of Vietnamese rice when compared to India and Myanmar.
But Le Minh Truong, general director of the Song Hau Food Company, said: “If we are too careful, we will lose the export opportunity as we did last year, when enterprises dared not sign export contracts.”
Besides, the higher price of rice would bring more benefits to farmers, he said.
Other delegates at the conference said there would be no shortage in the domestic market, given that rice is produced all year round in Vietnam.
Phong said world rice prices are not likely to increase in the coming months because supply is abundant.
Vietnamese rice will continue to encounter fierce competition in prices from India, Pakistan, and Myanmar, he said.
In addition, because of its higher purchase prices, Thailand has accumulated a large inventory, and many rice exporting countries worry that Thailand will slash prices to clear its stock, he added.
Phong said a general decline in world cereal production offered a good opportunity for rice exporting countries, including Vietnam, to boost exports.
In the domestic market, the average price of unhusked rice in October increased to VND6,185 a kilo from VND5,970 in the previous month.