By Kris Crismundo
MANILA – Cambodia is exploring opportunities to directly export rice to the Philippines, offering an alternative and cheaper source of rice for the country.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual met with a Cambodian delegation on Thursday, led by chief executive officer of the state-owned Green Trade Company Chan Sokty and the president of the Cambodia Rice Federation Okhna Chan Sokheang.
Green Trade is the counterpart of DTI’s Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC).
The Cambodian delegates are also exploring exporting rice through a government-to-government arrangement between Green Trade and PITC.
“They are still in the fact-finding stage. They are surveying our markets,” Pascual told reporters.
Pascual said Cambodia has a rice surplus of 50 percent of its total rice production, and the Southeast Asian country intends to sell it directly to neighboring countries and also in Europe.
Cambodian rice can enter the Philippine market at 35 percent tariff rate.
Pascual added the Cambodian delegates said they can commit to supply 3 million metric tons of rice to the Philippines, which is the level of imported rice by the country in 2022.
Earlier, Go Negosyo founder and ASEAN Business Advisory Council chair Joey Concepcion said Cambodia expressed intention to directly export unmilled rice to the Philippines on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in November 2022.
Concepcion then said Cambodia exports unprocessed rice to Vietnam, wherein the country processes the rice before exporting to other countries like the Philippines.
More than 80 percent of the country’s rice imports are sourced from Vietnam, according to the Bureau of Plant Industry.
He added that directly buying rice from Cambodia could decrease rice prices in the local market. (PNA)