The USDA, in its March 2017 report, said that India and Vietnam, the world’s leading rice exporters, may see overseas sales fall below previously expected levels due to a slowing demand and rising competition from China. India’s rice exports this year could fall by 300,000 tons to only 10 million tonnes on slower pace and stronger competition in West Africa, putting it on a par with shipments expected from Thailand. Moreover the report, more than doubled its forecast for China’s rice exports this year to 500,000 tons from 225,000 tons, citing rising sales in East Asia and West Africa. The USDA report also cut Vietnam’s rice export forecast by 3.6 percent to 5.6 million tonnes this year, attributing it to a reduced trade to Southeast Asia and Africa. But even with the lower projections, India and Thailand will share the world’s largest rice exporter title this year, followed by Vietnam and Pakistan. Last year too India was the world’s biggest rice exporter, followed by Thailand.
Based on data from Vietnam Customs released this week, Vietnam’s rice exports in the first two months of this year fell by 23.5 percent from the same period in 2016 to 738,000 tons while the valuations were down 24.7% to USD 314 million. But on a brighter note, Mexico has given the green light for 150,000 tons of rice to be imported at a zero percent tariff, starting from March 1, to meet domestic demand and diversify its supply sources, a move that would cut the market share currently held by the US and open the door to Vietnamese rice. Remaining optimistic USDA said, “The United States is expected to remain the dominant supplier (for Mexico), but recent history suggests that other suppliers will likely gain additional sales.”