The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) readjusted the rice export target for 2013 from 7.5 million tonnes to 6.7 million, reflecting four months of decreased exports.

This is the second time it lowered its annual export target this year, citing the huge global supply as well as decreasing demand in the core market of Southeast Asia.

Last month, Vietnam exported more than 530,000 tonnes, a 17 percent decrease over last October and 63,000 tonnes lower than the set target.

In the 10-month period, the country exported 5.73 million tonnes valued at 2.46 billion USD (free-on-board price), a year-on-year reduction of 12 percent and 14 percent in quantity and value respectively.

The VFA forecast that rice exports would continue to fall in the last two months of the year because of low demand in import markets and fierce competition.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh told Vietnam News Agency that the country's low rice export turnover was due to competition from India and Pakistan in the African market.

The two countries' favourable geographical locations made their transport fees more competitive, while difficulties in payment and transport forced Vietnam 's exporters to rely mostly on intermediaries, he said.

Anh predicted Vietnam would export 1.8 million tonnes of rice in the last quarter of the year, making the annual total 7 million tonnes.

However, whether the country achieved this goal depended on several factors, such as Thailand's policies to reduce rice inventory, India and Pakistan's crop output and demand from traditional markets such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia as well as African countries and China.

The ministry plans to strengthen traditional import markets in collaboration with the VFA, diplomatic agencies in foreign countries and businesses while making efforts to promote Vietnamese rice in new markets including China, Hong Kong, Africa and South Africa .

It has actively implemented meetings and negotiations to extend memorandums of understanding on soon-to-expire rice contracts. The Ministry of Industry and Trade also boosted advertising of Vietnamese rice products in foreign countries.

The ministry had carried out the agriculture sector's restructuring plan to improve product value and move towards sustainable development, Anh said.

It would continue to invest in modern technologies in production and manufacturing in association with connecting production to purchasing, he added.

The ministry asked agencies to monitor market changes and strive to overcome technical barriers.-VNA