As of March 25, the companies had signed contracts to export 2.8 million tons of rice for this year, mainly to Asian markets like China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, Le Thanh Phong, VFA Chairman told Vietnam News yesterday.
So far this year, nearly 900,000 tons of rice have been shipped to buyers through the export contracts, said Phong.
He also said that Vietnam was selling 5 per cent broken rice for US$450 per ton, $10 per ton higher compared with early March.
Meanwhile, paddy harvested from the winter-spring crop was selling for VND5,300 to VND5,400 per kilo, up by VND300 to VND400 per kg.
Prices of dried low-quality IR 50404 paddy stood at VND5.200 per kilogram while long-grain paddy was selling for VND5,600 per kg for the past couple of days, Phong said.
"We have seen optimistic signs for the country's rice export right in the first quarter of this year," he said.
China alone has imported some 500,000 tons of rice, mainly the high-quality 4 per cent broken rice, through official channels from Vietnam.
Besides this, some 400,000 tons of Vietnamese rice, over half of it lower-quality rice, have been sold to China through cross-border trade.
"The high demand for rice from China has helped boost export of rice from Vietnam," Phong said.
The increase in China's imports have compensated for the 25 per cent decrease in rice exports to African markets, Phong said.
Vietnamese rice now accounts for 30 per cent of the Hong Kong market which requires "very high" quality, Phong said.
In addition to the Chinese buyers, local firms have won contracts to sell 190,000 tons of rice to the Philippines.
Malaysia will buy some 650,000 tons of medium quality rice which will be shipped from late February to December 2012.
With 1.1 million tons of rice reserved from last year and 3.5 million tons of rice from the 2011-2012 winter-spring crop, the country has a total of 4.6 million tons of rice for export in the first half of 2012.
Phong said 1.2 million tons will be shipped to buyers in the first quarter and some 2 million tons in the second quarter, so the country will have 1.6 million tons in stock for the second half of the year.
"The local rice market has stabilised," Phong said.
He said there was stiff competition for low-priced rice from India and Myanmar and for high-price rice from Thailand, so Vietnam should focus on medium-priced rice for now.
Phong said 89 VFA members have bought some 300,000 tons of rice during the first ten days of the plan to buy one million tons for reserves. The plan is scheduled to run until April 30.