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Three ASEAN countries offer to buy Myanmar rice

The Cambodia Rice Federation has predicted that the value of rice exports to the European market may decline by around 10 per cent this year to $180 million. Hong Menea. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NAY PYI TAW, Jun 4, 2020, Myanmar Times. Three Asean heavyweights – Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines – have offered to buy rice produced in Myanmar, U Khin Maung Lwin, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, told The Myanmar Times.

The Philippines and Malaysia have offered to purchase 300,000 tonnes and 50,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar, respectively, while Indonesia has yet to confirm the quantity it wants.

The Philippines is already an existing rice export market for Myanmar, having already bought 60,000 tonnes of rice this year with a further 10,000 tonnes en route.

Due to COVID-19, the Asean countries are beefing up their rice reserves, which presents an opportunity for Myanmar to negotiate long term export contracts with them, U Khin Maung Lwin said.

“Currently, international rice prices are surging now so we will need to negotiate for favourable terms,” he said.

He added that Myanmar must weigh international demand for rice against its own needs.

“Demand is rising in the rice market but we also need to consider domestic food security. On the other hand, if there is too much supply inside the country, prices may plunge,” he said.

The Ministry of Commerce suspended rice export licenses in April but resumed in May and has since allowed 150,000 tonnes to exported. It has so far built up an export reserve equivalent to 10 percent of total exports, and purchased 50,000 tonnes of for domestic reserves.

Myanmar expects export 2.5million tonnes of rice in fiscal 2019-20 and earned more than US$542million from the export of 1.8 million tonnes of rice up until May 15. Around 14 percent of the exports were conducted at the border while more than 85pc was shipped out.

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