Vietnam's ban on rice exports still in force, government may set limit: traders

FILE PHOTO: Terraced rice field is seen in Pu Luong, Vietnam February 29, 2020. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam, the world’s third-largest rice exporter, has not yet lifted the ban on new rice export contracts, traders said on Monday, adding that they expect the government to remove the suspension this week and also impose a quota.

The government said last week it would halt signing new contracts until March 28 at the earliest under a review to ensure it has enough domestic supplies to cope with the virus outbreak.

“We haven’t been able to sign new contracts and have frozen our trading activities since last week,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Traders said they expect the government to make a final decision this week on whether the country will resume rice shipments or not.

“We heard that the government will set a limit for exports for the rest of the year,” another city-based trader said, adding that the government has been advised by the trade ministry to permit exports of 800,000 tonnes in April and May.

Vietnam, which has 194 coronavirus infections but no deaths so far, said on Friday it would stockpile 270,000 tonnes of rice, including 80,000 tonnes of unhusked paddy rice, this year to ensure food security.

The second trader said a working group of the ministries of trade, finance and agriculture has concluded that Vietnam has 6.5 million-6.7 million tonnes of rice left for exports this year, after setting aside a portion for domestic consumption and stockpiles.

Reporting by Khanh Vu, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips