SIDA-funded study sees Vietnam’s rice exports growing

Vietnam will export 4.61 million tonnes a year between 2001-2005 and up to 5.42 million tonnes of rice a year during 2006-2010 if it maintains its present rate of export, a new survey funded by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) shows.
     The study, conducted by Vietnam’s Trade Research Institute under Trade Ministry, is part of a Policy, Research and Capacity-building project supported by SIDA. If the survey proves accurate, Vietnam is set to maintain its place among the world’s major rice exporters.
     During the first five months of this year, the country’s rice export volume was up 47.4 per cent while the revenue for the more than 1.9 million tonnes, US$359 million, was 28.3 per cent higher than last year.
     The figures enabled Vietnam’s Deputy Trade Minister Mai Van Dau to announce that country’s target of exporting up to 3.2 million tonnes of rice this year was totally within the reach.
     For 14 years in succession, Vietnam has been the world’s second largest rice exporter, surpassed only by Thailand who exports about 7.3 million tones a year. Vietnam has sold more than 37 million tonnes of rice to the world – or an average of 2.6 million tonnes a year – worth more than US$8 billion during the past 14 years.
     The country’s rice exports grew by 12.94 per cent a year by volume and 15.8 per cent a year by average value between 1992-1997. The exports peaked in 1999 at 4.5 million tonnes, generating export revenue of US$1,025 billion. This was 3.2 times the volume of 1989 and 3.53 times the export value.
     Vietnam grows rice at the cost of US$90-110 a tonne, which is much lower than the cost of US$120-150 a tonne in Thailand. This is mainly due to the fact that its labor cost is only a third of that in the neighboring country. Input expenses are also just 50-80 per cent that of Thailand because Vietnam has twice as much irrigated land, which also gives 1.5 times higher yields. Poor infrastructure, transport and cargo handling however make the cost of exporting twice as high as in Thailand.
     Vietnam exports its rice to more than 80 countries on the five continents. Its biggest buyers for 2002 were Indonesia, 744,000 tonnes; the Philippines, 429,700 tonnes; Malaysia, 185,240 tonnes; Singapore, 97,360 tonnes and Iraq, 876,370 tonnes.

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