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Trade minister fields questions about rice export management

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HCMC – Vietnam has witnessed a profusion of rice trading activities over the first five months of the year, especially with the country’s rice exports reporting a positive growth both in terms of volume and value, stated Tran Tuan Anh, Minister of Industry and Trade, at a National Assembly question-and-answer session on June 15.

Following the prime minister’s order to fully resume rice export activities starting May 1, Vietnam’s rice exports skyrocketed 87% in volume and over 93% in value last month against April at nearly 954,000 tons worth some US$492 million, according to data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

From the start of this year until May, the country exported 3.06 million tons of rice worth US$1.48 billion, up 11% in quantity and over 25% in turnover compared to the figures a year ago.

Despite certain challenges in managing the country’s rice exports in late March, the ministry’s overall strategy ensured the most critical requirements were met.

Moreover, the country’s rice production also adequately met the domestic demand and ensured national food security. Local farmers, too, sold their rice and rice products at good prices, which rose 25% against the 2019 figure, noted the minister.

The minister admitted that lessons must be learnt from the shortcomings witnessed in the ministry’s regulating of rice exports during the five-month period.

When the Covid-19 infection was at its peak in the country, Anh said Vietnam’s rice export volume in the first two months soared some 32% versus the same period a year ago and the upward spiral continued in March.

The pandemic fueled demand for the rice reserves of many countries, leading to soaring rice prices in the local and global markets. As a result, Vietnam exported a huge volume of rice to foreign markets.

During this time, especially on March 22, Vietnam was at risk of facing a second coronavirus wave that triggered public panic. There was a likelihood of inadequate rice stocks for domestic consumption, the official admitted.

If the country had maintained the rice export quota at 25,000 tons per day as it did in the first half of March, the occurrence of an incident threatening the national rice reserves could have led to the shortage of rice for local consumption, despite the Mekong Delta witnessing a bumper rice harvest, according to him.

To cope with the situation, the prime minister decided to suspend rice exports until May to help stabilize domestic rice prices.

The Government leader then made adjustments and allowed the partial resumption of rice exports, with the quota set at 400,000 tons for April, following feedback from many localities.


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