Room for ASEAN rice exports to grow: MoIT hinh anh 1Farmers during rice harvest season in the Mekong Delta. There is still much room for growth for Vietnamese rice exporters in ASEAN markets. (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - ASEAN's 700-million market has a lot in common with Vietnam in terms of culture, habits and preferences, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), and there is still room to grow for Vietnamese exports in ASEAN markets, including Vietnamese rice, a major export of the country.

To answer questions related to rice import and export among ASEAN markets, the ministry's trade facilitation department held a working session with Vietnamese exporters on May 5 in the southern province of An Giang, a major producer of rice in Vietnam.

According to the ministry, the Philippines was Vietnam’s largest rice buyer in 2021, with a purchase volume of 2.45 million tonnes and a turnover of 1.25 billion USD.

On average, Vietnamese rice to the Philippines fetched 509 USD per tonne, a 10.7 percent increase in volume and 7.1 percent in price from the previous year.

Export to the Philippines alone accounted for 38 percent of the country's total rice export throughout the year.

During the first quarter of 2022, the Philippines remained Vietnam’s largest rice buyer, accounting for 48 percent of the country's total rice export at more than 672,000 tonnes at an average of 462.8 USD per tonne, totalling 311 million USD.

Aside from the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Brunei were also top buyers of Vietnamese rice among ASEAN countries.

Pham The Cuong, Vietnam’s trade attache in Indonesia, said Vietnamese rice had gained popularity in Indonesia in both traditional markets and supermarkets. There had been fierce competition between Vietnamese and Thai brands. In 2020, Indonesia imported roughly the same amount from the two countries.

There has been an uptick in rice export to Malaysia in January 2022. Vietnam shipped nearly 35,000 tonnes of rice at 16.07 million USD to Malaysia in January, a 104 percent increase in volume and a 67.5 percent increase in turnover compared to the same period last year.

Vietnamese rice exported to ASEAN countries mainly was made up of lower-quality rice. As Vietnam has steadily moved to produce higher-quality rice, which currently accounts for up to 80 percent of the country's entire production, it will be difficult to compete with affordable brands from India, Myanmar and Pakistan in the future, according to the ministry.

As a result, Vietnamese rice prices have been on the rise since 2020. As the country continues to focus on producing high-quality rice, prices have been predicted to continue with an upward trend, especially after setting an export goal of just under 4 million tonnes annually by 2030.

To realise said objectives, industry experts and policymakers have called for rice producers to conduct a comprehensive review of major markets, including ASEAN markets, the EU and the US, to find a balance between supply and demand for Vietnamese rice./.