As per reliable sources, it has been indicated recently that the Ministry of Economy and Finance in Vietnam announced on Monday that the government will block all illegal rice imports at its borders and limit legal rice shipments from Vietnam based on production cost. It has been intimated as part of the new regime that only milled rice with a production cost of $300 to $600 per tonne can legally be imported from Vietnam. Further, in this regard, according to the ministry, the goal is to eliminate cheap Vietnamese rice that sells for $200 or less per tonne from the Cambodian market. Moreover, the ministry also requires identifying features, such as the name of the rice producer, rice variety and any trademarks, which should be visible on imported packages in order to assess its true cost.
Meanwhile, in this matter Mr Moul Sarith, secretary-general of the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF), the industry body representing the Kingdom’s rice millers and exporters, revealed that the new policy would help Cambodia’s struggling rice sector to survive amid an onslaught of cheap Vietnamese milled rice. This mechanism will be able to control the flood of rice imports from Vietnam as well as rice smuggling too as it was narrated yesterday. Further, it was told that such action will also control the quality of the rice in the market. According to Sarith, Vietnamese rice produced for $200 to $300 per tonne was cheaper than locally milled rice, even with a 17 per cent import and VAT tax assessed. It was said that the government will also exempt the rice producers from paying a 15 per cent tax on day-worker salaries, as well as to give a $20 million to $30 million loan to the CRF to help them to keep the local industry afloat, provided the organisation can produce a transparent spending budget.
Furthermore, in this matter it has been described that in March, the CRF called on the government to take urgent measures aimed at addressing two key challenges to the domestic industry: one the millers’ insufficient access to capital and secondly the flood of illegal rice imports from neighbouring countries. The request followed a separate initiative by the Cambodian Rice Industry Survival Implementation Strategy (CRISIS) group, which provided a nine-point action plan to address what it described as an industry on the brink of collapse. In view of the status of the problem, the government agreed to strengthen entry points along Cambodia’s borders to block illegal rice imports on March 30. According to Kann Kunthy, CEO of Battambang Rice investment Co Ltd, the government has always claimed to support the rice sector however, in reality it provides little assistance. Now, we need the government to take better action instead of talk a lot, as it was stated. The government should take action on rice smuggling as it is much more prevalent than legal rice imports.