Vietnam ships rice to China in "unofficial trade,' group says

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Traders in Vietnam, the second-biggest rice exporter, may have "unofficially" shipped about 600,000 tons to China this year across the nation's northern border, according to the Vietnam Food Association.

Most of the shipments were made from April to July amid signs of increased demand from China, Huynh Minh Hue, general-secretary of the association, said Monday by phone. Through official channels, Vietnam has shipped less than 100,000 tons to China this year, Hue said.

China, the world's most populous nation, consumes about 500 million tons of all grains a year, and maintains stockpiles of about 40 percent of annual demand, according to March comments from China Grain Reserves Corp. China's rice output may fall as much as 7 percent this year after floods, Li Qiang, managing director at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co., said in August.

"It is difficult to say whether the country is short of rice or not because the country has a very big stockpile," Vietnam Food Association's Hue said. "These are just estimates, we don't have exact figures for border trade," Hue said.

Vietnam will meet a target to ship about six million tons of rice this year, said Nguyen Thanh Bien, Vietnam's deputy minister of Industry and Trade.

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