Domestic rice exporters face plenty of obstacles to trading in the Republic of Korea (RoK) and Japanese markets, experts said.

Le An Hai, commercial counsellor for Vietnam in the RoK, said that during 2011, RoK planned to import 347,658 tonnes of rice, making it a great potential market for Vietnamese rice.

To be successful, Vietnamese rice exporters had to be experienced in exporting rice at electronic auctions, Hai said.

Electronic auctions are new to many local rice exporters, said Cao Thi Ngoc Hoa, deputy general director of Southern Food Corporation.

Domestic rice exporters had often joined in direct auctions, but not in electronic auctions, she said.

Although Japan planned to import 250,000 tonnes of rice from Vietnam , local rice exporters could not cope with the order because of poor market research and knowledge regarding modern market trading methods, said Ho Xuan Hung, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

An additional obstacle to trading in the RoK and Japanese markets is consistent quality of rice.

Hoa said that her corporation, having always traded on the RoK market, had now stopped doing so because of strict market standards. Referring to Japan , she said that rice must reach 500 criteria of quality to be imported.

If exporters violated standards, they faced being penalised, said Pham Van Bay, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Food Association.

Deawoo International, a large RoK rice importer, said Vietnamese exporters should be self-confident in improving the quality of rice exports to successfully enter the RoK market.

Since 2010, domestic rice exporters had achieved significant success in exporting rice to Hong Kong , another strict market often importing Thai rice due to its cheap price and good quality, said Bay.

If local exporters received guidance regarding the exportation of high-grade rice, Vietnamese rice could easily enter strict markets, he said. Exporters needed state support in coming to grip with modern trading methods.

Vietnam exported 2.8 million tonnes of rice, valued at 1.4 billion USD, during the first four months of 2011. Exports saw a year-on-year increase of 30 percent in volume and 22.7 percent in value./.