The bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements between Vietnam and other countries such as the EU-Vietnam and the UK-Vietnam FTAs with preferential tariffs would create favourable conditions for Vietnamese rice to compete with that from rival countries, the Vietnam Food Association said.

According to the Vietnamese Trade Counsellor in the UK Nguyen Canh Cuong, rice shipments to the country this year will sharply rise against 2020. He added more UK firms will purchase Vietnamese rice under the UK-Vietnam FTA, creating a chance for Vietnamese rice to expand its market share in the UK this year.

Rice for export being stockpiled at SongHau Food Company in Can Tho city (Photo: VNA)

In 2019, rice exports from Vietnam to the UK had a leap forward with a turnover growth of 376 percent. That meant the UK has great potential as a rice export market for Vietnam.

In order to tap into the advantages under FTAs, rice export giants such as Intimex JSC, Loc Troi Group, VRICE Co, Trung An High Technology Agriculture JSC are planning to seek new customers in markets where Vietnam had signed FTAs, especially in the UK.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said it would provide rice export firms with information about the market demand situation in a timely manner while implementing trade promotion activities to help Vietnamese rice exporters better access customers.

Detailed information about the regulations and barriers under these FTAs’ commitments will be also offered by the ministry so that businesses can improve their understanding and draw up suitable business plans.

As part of its efforts to facilitate Vietnam's rice exports, the VAF has built up online sales channel and participated in online trade seminars to develop the rice industry.

It suggested rice exporters focus on high quality products with good export results, ensuring food hygiene and safety to be able to enter fastidious markets such as Europe, America and Canada.

Experts have said that if Vietnam wants to maintain rice export growth in 2021 it needs to focus on building a complete rice value chain and controlling quality in production, processing, and distribution.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam’s rice output totalled 42.8 million tonnes in 2020, down about 0.2 percent because of the shrinkage of some 192,000 hectares in farming areas. However, the productivity rose 50kg per hectare from a year earlier. 

The areas of high-grade rice varieties have expanded to 74 percent, compared to 50 percent in 2015, as a result of the country’s efforts in improving the value of the Vietnamese rice. 

Thanks to that, the shipments of high-grade rice made up more than 85 percent of the total, resulting in the growth of average rice price from 440 USD per tonne in 2019 to 496 USD per tonne in 2020.

The country exported 6.15 tonnes of rice for 3.07 billion USD last year, down 3.5 percent in volume but up 9.3 percent in value year-on-year.

The Philippines was Vietnam's leading rice importer, making up 34 percent of the total. Rice exports to this market in 2020 reached 2.22 million tonnes and 1.06 billion USD, up 4 percent in volume and 19.3 percent in value compared to 2019.

Other outlets with significant export growth in 2020 were Indonesia, (nearly triple 2019's figure) and China, up 93 percent year-on-year. 

VFA Vice Chairman Do Ha Nam described 2020 as a successful year for Vietnam’s rice exports, which he attributed to increasing demand in many countries and the improved competitiveness of Vietnamese rice around the world. 

Amid the difficulties posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, rice exporters quickly made appropriate adjustments and actively sought new markets while fully tapping into the advantages brought about by FTAs.

The EU-Vietnam FTA had created a major opportunity for Vietnamese rice to enter European markets and then make inroads into other choosy markets, Nam said./.

CPV (Source: VNA)