Illustrative image (Source: bangkokpost.com)

Phnom Penh (VNA)
– Cambodia’s rice exports in January 2019 dropped 5 percent compared to the same period last year, after a full year of decline in 2018.

Hun Lak, Vice President of the Cambodian Rice Federation, said the decrease is not a worrying problem because it is only a month-long figure, and the drop was not severe.

However, he noted it also showed that the country’s rice sector is likely to face disadvantages, especially when the European Commission (EC) re-imposed duties on rice imports from Cambodia on January 18.

The sector may face more problems exporting to the EU market if the Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade agreement is suspended, he added.

“We cannot evaluate anything now. We need to wait and see in two or three more months,” he said. “I think those who like the taste of Cambodian rice will continue to eat it because prices have increased only a few cents per kilogramme”.

Last month, Chan Sophal, Director of the Policy Research Centre under the Cambodian Economic Association (CEA), said that rice farmers in Cambodia must cut down production costs and even completely transfer their crops in order to deal with this situation.

Other experts said that Cambodian rice producers should seek new markets besides the EU. However, at present, Europe remains the indispensable market for the Southeast Asian nation.

The latest statistics showed that Cambodia exported 59.625 tonnes of rice in January, down from 62,623 tonnes recorded in the same period last year. Of the total, 23,899 tonnes or 40.7 percent were shipped to EU markets.

China imported 18,671 tonnes of rice from Cambodia, ASEAN member states got 9,226 tonnes, while other destinations received 7,839 tonnes.

Last year, Cambodia exported 626,225 tonnes of rice – down slightly from 635,679 tonnes in 2017.-VNA