Chinese Companies Gather For Cambodian Rice Pitch

Following a recent agreement to open China’s market to Cam­bodian rice, Chinese inves­tors visiting the Council for the Deve­lopment of Cambodia yesterday were the most recent recipients of Cambodia’s sales pitch for local rice. But one investor said they must be assured of competitive prices and quality.

The meeting brought together officials from the Industrial and Com­mercial Bank of China, which has provisional approval to open in Cambodia, and the China Oil & Foodstuff Corporation to hear about Cambodia’s new rice policy, its efforts to boost rice output and its goal of exporting 1 million tons of rice by 2015.

Yang Hong, vice president of COFCO, said following the meeting that China can import a maximum of 5 million tons of rice. She said imports could begin soon.

“I just want to make sure that if we are going to buy, everything is in place,” she said. “If the quality is accepted and the price is competitive then we can, in terms of the policy from China. The potential is there.”

In October, Cambodia and Chi­na signed an agreement to create procedures and quality standards for rice exports to China. Some agriculture experts have questioned the potential of the deal since China is a net exporter of rice.

“It’s not so easy to compete with the local rice,” she said.

Sok Chenda, secretary-general of the CDC, said that the ICBC had helped arrange COFCO’s visit, which he said demonstrated a solid interest in Cambodia’s rice.

“You need money, and it’s a bank who brought them here,” he said. “Sometimes you have to look for the market, but the market came to us.”

COFCO expressed an interest in 300,000 tons to start with, he said. Cambodia is expected to export only 40,000 tons this year.

Concerns about a potential food crisis, regional proximity and large population all give China reason to import Cam­bo­dian rice, he said.

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