The Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked the Prime Minister to postpone the implementation of a decision on suspending rice export.
|A rice field in the Mekong Delta - the rice granary of Vietnam - Photo: VNA|
On March 24, the General Department of Vietnam Customs issued an urgent document asking provincial and municipal Departments of Customs to suspend the export of rice starting from 0:00am of March 24.
In the document, Deputy General Director Mai Xuan Thanh said this is to implement a conclusion by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a meeting of the cabinet on ensuring food security in the context of the COVID-19.
Explaining the MoIT’s latest proposal, Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh said the ministry had earlier recommended the Government to temporarily halt rice exports due to concerns that the country might face the risk of rice shortage for domestic consumption after Vietnam’s rice exports in the first two months of the year surged by 32 percent year-on-year to 930,000 tonnes amid rising demand for rice and strongly fluctuating prices on the world market under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, following the General Department of Vietnam Customs’ instruction, several localities and firms reported that there is a gap between statistics on rice stocks of the MoIT and those of localities and trading companies, especially regarding the rice output of the Winter-Spring crop in the Mekong Delta and the volume of rice kept by farmers and traders.
Therefore, the MoIT asked for the postponement of the order on rice export suspension in order to conduct a review of the rice stocks in the country.
The gap between the ministry’s statistics and those of trading companies is due to the fact that rice exporters are not required to report their trading activities, stocks and reserves under Decree 107/2018/ND-CP.
According to Deputy Minister Khanh, some businesses said rice exports in March would not increase as fast as forecast, even slow down. A number of provinces also reported that farmers are keeping large quantity of rice.
The MoIT’s viewpoint is that food security must be the top priority, the deputy minister said, adding that the ministry had planned measures to ease difficulties for trading businesses in case rice exports are suspended. One of the measures is to work with banks to reduce interest rates on the businesses’ loans, he said.