Vietnam may export 7.7 million tons of rice this year, the largest amount in 20 years, as shipments from major competitor Thailand have fallen sharply, the Vietnam Food Association said.
Vietnamese rice exports hit 6.4 million tons in the first ten months, worth US$2.9 billion, up 2.7 percent in value compared to the same period last year, the industry group said.
Exporters have secured enough contracts to bring total shipments to 7.5 million tons by the end of the year, but new deals this month are expected to push that figure further, it said.
A record volume of 7.7 million tons will officially make Vietnam the world's largest rice exporter in 2012.
Vietnam shipped 7.1 million tons of rice last year. The country has revised its export projection for this year several times, from the original 5.4 million tons to up to 7 million.
Thailand, last year's largest shipper, saw exports of the grain falling 45 percent in the first nine months to five million tons. Its government has guaranteed high prices for rice farmers, causing prices to surge and make it difficult for exporters to find buyers. According to Reuters, Thailand has ended up with about 12 million tons in state stockpiles.
The Vietnam Food Association said that while Thailand is no longer a rival, there will be strong competition from India, Pakistan and Myanmar next year.
These countries are offering rice at US$20-30 per ton lower than Vietnam and favorable harvest conditions will allow them to boost exports, the association said.
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