|Rice stockpiling for exports at Song Hau Foodstuff Company in the southern Can Tho Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HCM CITY (VNS) — Vietnamese rice exporters are in dire need of market information, especially about new markets, and Government agencies, including Vietnamese trade counsellors abroad, should focus more on providing them such information, a seminar heard in HCM City on Monday.
Nguyen Xuan Hong, deputy director of the Long An Department of Industry and Trade, said his province and its rice exporters need information related to export markets.
China had large demand for rice, but its policies change frequently, and businesses needed information about its rice import regulations, quotas, rice inventory policies and others, he said. Changes in these regulations directly affected export prices, he said.
"Therefore, businesses need timely information to help them avoid blunders when signing contracts."
Similarly, Africa too offers a promising market and also poses risks to Vietnamese exporters, with many getting cheated", he said, adding this was due to the lack of information about the market and business partners.
Nguyen Trung Kien, chairman of Gentraco Corporation, one of the country's leading rice exporters, said Vietnamese trade counsellors in Latin America should provide information about rice quality management, hygiene and food safety, plant quarantine, and origin traceability there.
They should also provide information about the main competitors there, and help Vietnamese firms tie up with key distributors, he said.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, rice exports this year are expected to run into difficulties due to fierce competition from other major exporting countries like Thailand, India, and Pakistan and potential exporters like Cambodia and Myanmar.
Asian countries are the main buyers, accounting for 74.5 per cent of Vietnamese exports, followed by Africa (13.7 per cent), and the US (6.7 per cent), it said.
China is the biggest importer, accounting for more than 50 per cent of the country's exports, if border trade is included.
Bui Huy Hoang, Viet Nam's trade counsellor in China, said China's rice imports have risen sharply in recent years, and are expected to continue to increase.
Vietnamese may be the biggest exporter to the market, "But in supermarkets in China, we do not see any rice from Viet Nam or Vietnamese brands.
"Businesses should quickly build a Vietnamese rice brand in the market, otherwise Cambodia will overtake us."
To minimise the risks involved in rice exports, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh instructed Vietnamese trade counsellors abroad, the Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency and other relevant agencies to provide businesses with latest market information.
They have also been told to recommend measures to improve the efficiency and value addition of rice exports based on the competitive advantages Vietnamese rice enjoys.
He ordered agencies under his ministry to co-operate with the association to map out trade promotion strategies in traditional and potential export markets.
The association needs to speed up strategies to develop Vietnamese rice brands, he said.
Huynh Minh Hue, general secretary of the Viet Nam Food Association, said besides traditional markets, companies should also promote rice exports to new markets, especially those that have free trade agreements with Viet Nam to avoid the overwhelming reliance on China.
Viet Nam has opportunities to boost exports to the US, Mexico, Chile, the EU, Australia, and Oceania, but to do so, besides ensuring the quality meets consumers' demands and offering competitive prices, firms also need to strengthen marketing and promotion, according to Hue.
Viet Nam exported over 416,770 tonnes of rice for more than US$169.2 million in January month, up 71 per cent in value year-on-year. — VNS