Official statistics showed that in the 2009-2013 period, Vietnam was among the world's three biggest rice exporters. In 2012 in particular, Vietnam surpassed Thailand to become the world's top rice exporter with over 7.7 million tons.
However, since 2013, the country's rice export volume has been on the downward trend, posting the seven-year low in 2016 with nearly 4.9 million tons of rice sold abroad.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), in Q1, Vietnam shipped around 1.28 million tons of rice to the world market, earning 566 million U.S. dollars, down 18.1 percent in volume and 17.3 percent in value year-on-year.
The Q1 average rice export price hit 426 U.S. dollars per ton, down 1.6 percent year-on-year.
The decline in Vietnam's rice exports was blamed on the decrease in its key traditional markets, including China and the Philippines, reported local Vietnam Economic Times (VET) on Friday.
Although China is seen as the "salvage" for Vietnam's rice exports, and it continued to top Vietnam's rice importers, Vietnam saw negative signals in rice exports to China in Q1 as China lifted its rice standards imported from ASEAN countries, including Vietnam.
Accordingly, since Jan. 1, 2017, only 22 Vietnamese companies have been qualified to export rice to China.
In addition, Thailand is discharging its rice inventory, which has lowered global rice prices, while the Philippines, one of the key markets of Vietnamese rice, recently announced that it would stop rice imports to protect the domestic production, said the Vietnam Food Association (VFA).
Addressing the possible inventory of Vietnamese rice amid the sluggish market situation and the current peak harvest time for Winter-Spring crops in the country's southern Mekong Delta, VFA has urged local firms to develop the domestic market by building high-quality rice brands to meet with demands of domestic consumers as well as reduce the export pressure.
To facilitate the rice branding, VFA proposed the Vietnamese government to reduce the value added tax imposed on local firms from five percent to zero percent in the next 5-7 years.