YANGON (Bloomberg): Myanmar expects rice exports to surge in coming months as curbs on Indian sales and a spike in Thai and Vietnamese prices force buyers to hunt for other origins.
The tightening in global supply should help revive the Southeast Asian nation’s rice shipments, which slumped 56% in the first four months of the fiscal year, and bring it closer to its annual goal of earning US$1 billion from exports of the grain, Ye Min Aung, president of the Myanmar Rice Federation, said in an interview last week.
Myanmar exported about 320,000 tonnes from April to July, earning just $138 million, according to data from the federation, after the government decided to prioritise selling higher-grade rice. But prospects improved last month when India, the world’s top exporter, banned a substantial portion of its overseas sales to keep a lid on domestic prices ahead of a general election due early next year. That’s pushed up prices in some of Myanmar’s regional competitors.
"We hope to take advantage, even though we’ll maintain our focus on exporting only higher-quality varieties,” Ye Min Aung said.
Myanmar is another nation troubled by food insecurity, a situation worsened by political instability since a military coup in 2021, and its export policy is designed to conserve domestic supplies. While sales of better-quality grain can reap as much as $700 a tonne compared to $300 or $400 a tonne for lower grades, according to Ye Min Aung, it also limits customers to relatively wealthy countries.
Myanmar earned over $800 million from rice sales in each of the two previous fiscal years, according to the federation, and its biggest buyers include China, the Philippines and Belgium. The US Department of Agriculture ranked it as the world’s sixth-biggest exporter last year.