As Cambodia Eyes EU Market, Quality necessary

The country must ensure consistent quality of its rice shipments as it prepares to expand its markets to the European Union where high standards must be met for success, participants in a conference on rice exports said yesterday.

The meeting follows the return of a delegation of rice millers, rice exporters and government officials who earlier this month visited Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland to learn about exporting to those markets. A group of potential European buyers is scheduled to visit Cambodia early next year.

While Cambodian rice samples were well received by potential importers, rice exporters must prevent occasional bad shipments from hurting Cambodia’s reputation and hurting ambitions to expand, said Ralf Muller, a trade promotion advisor to the Commerce Ministry. Mr Muller works for the German aid organization GTZ, which provided technical assistance for the trip.

“It is the potential risks; if some exporters export too much and if some millers export too much and are not ready to do this,” he said.

He recommended that Cambodia formulate rice standards and added that potential problems like insects, black or yellow grains, or small stones in rice shipments would be detrimental to trade expansion, he said.

Mao Thora, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, said that in 2010 total milled rice exports to Eastern Europe reached 21,000 tons, up 40 percent from 2009, and should increase again next year.

He said much of the quality depends on the quality of milling machines, and that machinery will be improved as more imports give millers more capital for improvements.

“If we buy good quality machines, rice will be welcome by purchasers,” he said.

Thon Virak, director of government-owned rice exporter Green Trade, said potential buyers in Poland, which has lower quality standards than Western Europe, are interested in buying at least 40,000 tons of milled rice next year. He said markets would be extended to Western Europe as more standards are imposed on rice millers “step by step.”

“We will wait for the orders abroad because everything will start in 2011,” he said.


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