Recent figures show that Cambodian rice exports to the European Union have declined slightly, while Myanmar’s have undergone a sharp increase.
From September to April, Cambodian rice exports to the EU dropped by 1 per cent compared to the same period last year, from 167,660 tonnes to 165,940 tonnes, according to figures released by the European Commission last week.
Myanmar’s rice exports to the EU, in contrast, increased by 81 per cent from 79,940 to 144,550 tonnes for the same period.
Industry insiders expect Cambodian rice export volumes to the European Union to level off, admitting that Myanmar is a strong competitor.
“We acknowledge them as a competitor because they are also a developing country and their rice is cheaper than our rice,” said Kim Savuth, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation. “Cambodia should focus on exporting fragrant rice and improving packaging to make higher margins,” Savuth said.
“Myanmar and other major rice exporters cannot produce fragrance rice as we do.”
Cambodian white rice sells at $430 per tonne, the figures reported, while there was no price estimate for Burmese rice.
According to Hun Lak, president of rice export firm Mekong Oryza Trade, Burmese rice is about $20 cheaper per tonne.
However, other factors could be behind Cambodia’s weakened EU rice exports, he said.
“The declining trend can also be due to the weakening of the Euro against the US dollar, so countries in the EU buy less but increase their production.”