Rice growing localities, exporters want export limits scrapped

81972 riceHCM CITY — Officials from many localities in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta and rice exporters have urged the Government to resume rice exports without setting limits, saying many firms face difficulties because of this.

Speaking at a conference in HCM City on April 22 they also exhorted the ministries of Industry and Trade and Finance and the customs department to quickly clear the consignments of rice exports stuck at ports.

The Government recently lifted a ban on rice exports, but capped them at around 400,000 tonnes each in April and May citing national food security concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 12, the General Department of Customs began accepting online customs declarations from rice exporters, but many were left disappointed since the quota of 400,000 tonnes was reached in just three hours.

Some hundreds tonnes of rice are now stuck at ports.

Lê Minh Đức, director of the Long An Province Department of Industry and Trade, said: "Last year, we sat together to discuss solutions to boost rice exports, but this year we discuss whether to export or not. This is abnormal, especially in the context that rice output this year has not decreased despite being affected by drought and saltwater intrusion."

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages globally, demand for rice has increased in many markets, and Việt Nam should pay attention to this opportunity, he said.

"In the current situation, we have recommended the Government should allow export of rice without applying limits.”

Nguyễn Ngọc Nam, chairman of the Việt Nam Food Association, said: “As of April 18, rice inventory at member companies was 1.94 million tonnes. Enterprises had signed contracts to export 1.7 million tonnes with delivery until June. If they fulfil the contracts, they will still have more than 200,000 tonnes in stock. Besides, the summer-autumn rice crop is about to be harvested.

“Therefore, we have petitioned the Government to allow normal rice exports from May.”

Trương Quang Hoài Nam, deputy chairman of the Cần Thơ City People’s Committee, agreed with Đức and called for allowing exporters who submitted customs declaration forms in March to ship their rice and enabling firms with consignments stuck at ports to complete customs clearance.

"Firms in the city had shipped 76,181 tonnes of rice to ports. They submitted customs declarations for more than 46,000 tonnes in March. But all consignments are stuck at ports."

Trần Hồ Hiền of the Bình Định Food Joint Stock Company (Bidifood) said his company had nearly 10,000 tonnes stuck at Mỹ Thới Port because customs lost its customs declaration form.

His company has been suffering heavy losses since it has to meet VNĐ200 million a day (US$8,476) for a month in unexpected expenses, he said.

"Our company is in danger of collapse.”

He sought the help of the ministries of Industry and Trade and Finance.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Trần Quốc Khánh, who chaired the conference, called on customs to help Bidifood and other companies in similar circumstances clear their consignments as soon as possible.

He admitted that there have been difficulties for businesses, but the recent changes in rice export regulations were due to concerns related to food security and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and saltwater intrusion.

Localities in the Mekong Delta have reported a bumper winter-spring crop, and farmers in the north have also started harvesting their rice crop, which has not affected by pests as earlier feared.

Based on this, his ministry would recommend that the Government should adjust the rice export regulations from May, he promised. — VNS

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