Rice bags are loaded onto a barge for shipment (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – Many rice export contracts continuing from 2017 and Indonesia’s import order at the year’s beginning amid limited rice supply are positive signs for Vietnam’s rice exports.

According to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA), more than 5.7 million tonnes of rice was shipped abroad in 2017, surpassing last year’s target. There remain some 630,000 tonnes of rice under contracts signed last year to be shipped in 2018.

While the remaining unsold rice volume is small, about 100,000 tonnes, the winter-spring harvest season has yet to reach its peak, leading to limited domestic supply. This is a reason behind Vietnam’s bid to sell only 141,000 tonnes of rice to Indonesia recently.

Nguyen Ngoc Nam, Acting Director General of the Vietnam Southern Food Corporation (Vinafood 2) – one of the two Vietnamese firms winning the bid for rice export to Indonesia this time, said at the outset of 2018, Indonesia suddenly invited tenders for 500,000 tonnes of rice and requested rice be delivered in February.

Eight companies from Vietnam, Thailand, India and Pakistan won rice supply bids but with small volumes, 346,000 tonnes in total. This result showed the unsold inventory of some rice exporting countries is not abundant, he added.

[Video: Vietnam’s rice export to enjoy prosperous year in 2018]

Global rice demand is forecast to soar in 2018, and China will remain the biggest rice importer. While Indonesia resumed rice imports after a two-year halt, the Philippines is also predicted to buy more rice. These rosy signs are expected to give a boost to rice exporters, including Vietnam, according to the VFA.

The US Department of Agriculture forecast Vietnam’s rice export volume will rise by 400,000 tonnes from 2017 to more than 6 million tonnes this year, mainly thanks to higher demand in Southeast Asia.

In January, the country shipped 524,000 tonnes of rice worth 249 million USD abroad, up 56.5 percent in volume and 74.2 percent in value from a year earlier, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported.-VNA