Falling rice, tra fish shipments to China affect domestic prices
Shrinking rice and tra fish exports to China, a major consumption market for Vietnam, have led prices of the two items in the local market to decline.
A report from the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, shows that Vietnam’s outbound rice shipments in May amounted to an estimated 739,000 tons, worth US$314 million, taking the total volume of rice exports in the first five months to 2.83 million tons, down 4% year-on-year.
The first four months of 2019 saw China’s rice imports from Vietnam plummet by over 90% over the year-ago period, even though the Chinese market’s rice purchases from the latter accounted for 30%-40% of Vietnam’s total rice shipments each year a few years ago.
Nguyen Thanh Phong, director of private firm Van Loi in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang, said that the rice export slump had dragged down domestic prices of rice, resulting in strong fluctuations in the local agro market.
Accordingly, fresh IR 50404 rice is priced at VND4,000 per kilogram, down by VND1,300-VND1,400 against the same period last year, while the IR 50404 material rice price fell by VND1,300 per kilogram to VND5,900-VND6,000 per kilogram.
The fall in rice prices has also reduced farmers’ profits. They have earned only VND10 million in profit per hectare for rice cultivation.
Facing the same fate, tra fish farmers have also suffered financial difficulties as the tra fish price is currently VND20,000 per kilogram, tumbling by VND16,000 per kilogram against the record price seen last year. Many tra fish raisers said that the current low price of tra fish has caused them to incur a loss of VND2,500 per kilogram.
Statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs indicate that Vietnam saw the revenue from tra fish exports amount to US$143 million in April, down 17.6% year-on-year. Vietnam earned US$615 million for tra fish shipped to foreign markets in the first four months of 2019, equivalent to the figure in the same period last year.
As for the Chinese market, the value of Vietnam’s tra fish exports to the neighboring country during the January-April period dipped by 5.7% year-on-year.