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Vietnam seeks to reduce reliance on Asian rice markets, raise exports to Africa, Americas

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam is seeking to reduce its reliance on Asian rice markets while boosting the output of high-quality grain to better position itself in the global market, the government said on Thursday.

Grains are seen on assembly line of a rice processing factory in Vietnam's southern Mekong delta city of Can Tho, August 23, 2015. REUTERS/Kham/Files

The Southeast Asian country aims to reduce its rice shipments to Asian markets to 50 percent of its total exports by 2030, from the current of 60 percent, the government said in a statement.

Vietnam is the world’s third-largest rice exporter after India and Thailand, with key buyers including China, the Philippines and Indonesia.

The government said it will seek to boost exports to Africa to 25 percent of its exports and to 10 percent for markets in the Americas.

“(Vietnam’s) rice production in the coming time will focus on clean and organic rice and on diversifying its processed rice products,” Tran Thanh Hai, the deputy head of the trade department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade said in the statement.

The value of Vietnam’s rice exports in 2018 may rise to between $3.2 billion and $3.3 billion, an increase of up to 26.9 percent from $2.6 billion last year, the trade ministry said on Thursday in a separate statement on its official Facebook page.

The country is trying to increase the quality and variety of the rice it exports as well as branding of the grain to boost exports value, the ministry said.

Vietnam plans to reduce the amount of low-quality rice and increase exports of fragrant, speciality and Japonica rice, the trade ministry said, without giving an estimate of 2018 rice exports volume.

To achieve this, the ministry plans to open the rice market, enhance negotiations, promote rice trading and build the Vietnamese rice brand, the statement said.

The nation exported 4.89 million tonnes of rice in the first nine months of 2018, up 6.7 percent from a year earlier, while rice exports revenue in the nine-month period jumped 21.3 percent annually to $2.46 billion, official data showed.

Reporting by Mai Nguyen and Khanh Vu; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Amrutha Gayathri