Vietnam suspends rice export to ensure food security in face of COVID-19
A leading official of the General Department of Vietnam Customs just signed an urgent document sent to the provincial and municipal Departments of Customs, asking them to suspend the export of rice from the country starting from 0:00am of March 24.
Rice is packaged for export at the factory of the Song Hau Food Company in Can Tho city
In the document, Deputy General Director Mai Xuan Thanh said this is to implement a conclusion by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a meeting of the cabinet on ensuring food security in the context of the COVID-19. However, those shipments with customs registration forms completed before the stroke of that time will go as usual.
Provincial and municipal customs department need to intensify the fight against the smuggling of the food, the document said.
On March 18, PM Phuc presided over the meeting, during which he stressed food security must be ensured in a really firm way under any circumstance.
Rice is the main food for Vietnamese people, and also the country’s major hard currency earner. Last year, Vietnam exported 6.37 million tonnes of rice, earning 2.81 billion USD, an increase of 4.1 percent in volume but a decline of 8.4 percent in revenue compared to those a year earlier.
Rice export enjoys growth despite COVID-19
Rice is one of the rare commodities that is not being seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with both export volume and value increasing in the first two months of 2020.
According to the General Statistics Office, Vietnam exported 900,000 tonnes of rice worth 410 million USD in January-February, up 27 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Food Association Do Ha Nam said COVID-19 has not affected Vietnam’s rice exports thanks to the country’s market diversification that means it does not have a heavy dependence on a single market.
Phan Xuan Que, General Director of the Vietnam Northern Food Corporation (VINAFOOD 1), expressed his optimism about the prospects of emerging markets in Africa.
In 2019, Vietnam earned 252.6 million USD from exporting 583,579 tonnes of rice to Ivory Coast, up 111 percent in volume and 61 percent in value compared to the previous year.
Ghana also imported 427,187 tonnes of rice worth 212.65 million USD from Vietnam.
This year, African countries are likely to increase rice imports from Vietnam, he said.
Another positive sign for rice businesses is the prices could surge due to strong demand from the Philippines and Malaysia.
Que said with the results from January-February, it is feasible for the rice industry to realise its target of grossing over 3 billion USD from shipping 6.7 million tonnes abroad this year.
Besides, the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) is expected to create more competitive advantages for Vietnam’s rice exports to the EU once it takes effect and offers zero-percent tariffs./.VNA