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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  22 October  2015  

Rice quality key to export growth

Viet Nam's rice exports have seen positive growth in the first quarter of 2015, but production needs to be restructured with rise in quality of trading and reputation, said experts.

They said the demand for traditional rice export markets of Viet Nam has seen a recovery, such as a contract to export 450,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines.

Huynh Minh Hue, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Food Association, said Viet Nam has signed commercial contracts to export 1.3 million tonnes of rice and centralised contracts on shipping 1.5 million tonnes of rice in six months.

However, Le Thanh Khiem, deputy director of the Tien Giang Food Company, said Viet Nam should focus on increasing the quality of exported rice rather than the volume to enter the high value export markets such as Europe and Japan that place high demand on quality for imported rice, Vietnamplus reported.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said Viet Nam's export quality rice still expects traditional and centralised export markets. The agricultural sector needs to restructure production and business of rice to improve product quality and build a trademark. These actions will help local rice producers and traders to avoid losses when the demand for imported rice drop.

Vo Thanh Do, deputy head of the Department of Processing and Trade for Agro-forestry-Fisheries Products and Salt, said Viet Nam has more than 200 medium- and large-scale enterprises exporting rice, but Vietnamese rice is rated among the medium and low segments on the world market. The nation has seen low volume in exports of high export quality rice.

In addition, while Viet Nam is one of the top three rice exporters on the world, the nation has not seen a national rice brand name so far, Do said, while Thailand and India have had many export quality rice products with national brand names.

Moreover, Viet Nam has not chosen rice varieties for stable development in the long term, Khiem said. Most of Vietnamese rice varieties were developed in the short term and then were degraded.

Therefore, Viet Nam's rice need to face strong competition in quality and brand names with potential rivals such as Cambodia, Myanmar and the United States.

Nguyen Duc Thanh, director of the Viet Nam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR), said if Viet Nam focusses on the easy markets, the nation will reduce its quality standards in production and export of rice. The competitive ability of Vietnamese export quality rice will reduce more and more on the global market.

When free trade agreements with foreign partners come into effect in the future, Viet Nam's rice industry will not have the power to change its quality to gain any advantage from the agreements.

So, Viet Nam needs to restructure its rice production and business right now. The restructuring could bring rice output down but strongly raise the value and brand name of Vietnamese rice in the future, Thanh said.

The prime minister has approved a plan for the development of Viet Nam's rice brand by 2020 onwards to 2030. Under the plan, Viet Nam will have a brand name for 20 per cent of its national total rice export volume by 2020 and be a part of the global value chain. The percentage will increase to 50 per cent in 2030.

According to the VFA report, Viet Nam shipped over 4.3 million tonnes of rice worth US$1.95 billion abroad till September 2015, down 9.12 per cent in terms of volume and 14.3 per cent in value compared to the same period last year. VNS

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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