Vietnam targets exporting 2.2 million tonnes of rice in the second quarter of the year, which would raise the total export volume for the first six months to 3.65 million tonnes, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).

Speaking at a May 21 meeting in Ho Chi Minh City , Huynh Minh Hue, VFA general secretary, said that businesses had exported 1.45 million tonnes of rice for a free-on-board (FOB) value of 641.3 million USD in the first quarter of the year.

This represented an increase of 35.12 percent in volume and 22.76 percent in value compared to the same period last year.
With an abundant supply in the world market, the average export price in the period was 44.5 USD per tonne lower than from the corresponding period last year, to around 442 USD per tonne, he said.

Countries in Asia and Africa were the main buyers of Vietnamese rice, accounting for nearly 66.3 percent and 16.4 percent of total export volume, respectively.

During this period, exports of high-grade and fragrant rice accounted for nearly half of total exports, and average-grade rice 31.7 percent, he said.

By the end of last month, enterprises had signed contracts to export 3.57 million tonnes of rice and had already shipped 1.45 million tonnes.

This means that another 2.12 million tonnes will be delivered beginning in April.

Hue as well as other meeting attendees said that world rice prices were not likely to increase in the coming months because supply was abundant.

Thailand and India , two of the world's largest exporters, have a large inventory, so they will seek ways to reduce their stocks, thus putting more pressure on rice prices.

However, Le Viet Hai, director of the Mekong-Can Tho Joint Stock Company, said there was no sense of urgency for Vietnam to cut export prices further "since our price was already low, and our rice is fresh and has a consistent quality."

Truong Thanh Phong, VFA chairman, agreed, saying the association would adjust selling prices in a flexible manner.

He said demand from traditional markets for Vietnamese rice is expected to improve in the second quarter.

In addition, Vietnam has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Republic of Guinea to export 300,000 tonnes of rice annually to the African nation until the end of 2015, he said.

"I believed that the industry would meet its export target set for the second quarter," Phong said.-VNA