Accuracy of Rice Exports Report Questioned

Officials and economists have questioned a local media report that stated exports of milled rice in January had declined by up to 40 percent compared with the same month in 2011.

According to the report, published on Wednesday, “Some of Cambodia’s biggest exporters have experienced a sizeable decline in milled-rice shipments this month, with one insider putting the number as high as 40 per cent year-on-year.”

The report said that declining prices in competing markets in countries such as Vietnam, India and Pakistan, was the main reason for the fall in exports as Cambodia’s milled rice had become less competitive.

But SBI Royal Securities, a stock brokerage and corporate advisory firm based in Phnom Penh, said in a note on Cambodia’s economy on Thursday that the accuracy of the newspaper report was questionable and that one month’s data was not enough to reach a consensus on the volume of the country’s rice exports.

“We question the accuracy of this report, especially in terms of the degree of the decline in volume, which is based on anecdotal evidence from millers and not government statistics,” SBI Royal Securities said.

The firm also said that the same newspaper report had incorrectly put milled rice exports for 2010 at 140,000 tons.

The actual amount is 55,000 tons, Ministry of Commerce figures show.

According to SBI Royal Securities, the amount of rice leaving Cambodia’s shores has been steadily rising for the past two years.

“Exceptionally large shipments in December 2011 will mean that even a weak one or two months in early 2012 will still leave the average trend for milled rice export growth strong.

“We also expect that any major volume decline will prompt Cambodian milled rice exporters to cut prices to bring them more in-line with competitors,” the firm said.

Kong Putheara, director of the statistics department at the Ministry of Commerce, said it was impossible to make an evaluation of rice exports in January as the month has not yet finished and government statistics had not been readied.

“I don’t believe this information [in the newspaper] as a 40

percent drop is not usual,” he said.

© 2012 – 2014, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.