Economists are predicting significant expansion for Vietnam’s agricultural exports in 2014, Hanoi Times online newspaper has said.

It quoted the Vietnam Fruits and Vegetables Association as saying 2014 promises another bumper year for vegetable exports, which have experienced annual growth rates of 20 percent to 30 percent in recent years.

The Vietnam Pepper Association (VPA) in turn has forecast that the export volume of the spice will be around 125,000-130,000 tonnes with total revenue remaining relatively unchanged from 2013 at 900 million USD.

The revenue forecast is a rather conservative on the basis of the assumption that pepper prices were stable in 2013 and will not increase in 2014, hovering around 120,000 VND a kilo throughout 2013.

For rice exports, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the VFA said the export outlook will be likely to remain unchanged compared to 2013. However, Vietnam will face tougher competition from Thailand and other major rice suppliers in Asia.

I ndia will remain the world’s leading supplier and a strong rival of Vietnam this year.

The VFA said despite falling demand in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is still in a position to win government-to-government export contracts with regional countries.

China, Vietnam’s biggest rice importer, is forecast to continue its high level of imports, yet economists warn of trade risks from the market.

The VFA said Vietnam’s rice exports will reach around 6.5-7 million tonnes this year.-VNA