Vietnam ups 2012 rice export forecast 16 pct on higher output

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Vietnam, the world's second-biggest rice exporter, is forecast to export 6.25 million tons of rice this year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said on Wednesday, an increase of nearly 16 percent from an earlier projection of 5.4 million.

Higher domestic output and higher demand are likely to spur the increase in exports, the ministry said in a monthly report released on Wednesday.

"The import demand for Vietnamese rice from countries such as China, Malaysia, Ivory Coast and Senegal has risen from 2011," the report said, without giving any breakdown of the demand.

It forecast Vietnam's rice export revenues this year could reach US$3 billion, down 17.6 percent from $3.64 billion in 2011.

China in April displaced Indonesia from its March position to become the biggest buyer of Vietnamese rice, having bought nearly 680,000 tons in the first four months of 2012, the farm ministry said in a separate report, marking a more than threefold increase from 153,000 tons a year ago.

Malaysia took second place, with the four-month delivery volume rising nearly 27 percent from a year ago to 258,000 tons, the ministry said.

The reports made no reference to comments by Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat on March 15 that Vietnam aimed to match last year's record shipment of 7.2 million tons.

China is expected to increase rice imports about fourfold to more than 2 million tons in 2012, on track to become the world's third-largest buyer after Indonesia and Nigeria.

Fresh buying demand by China and deliveries were slowing, the Vietnam Food Association said in a weekly report without elaborating.

Vietnam's rice exports between January and May fell 12.4 percent from a year ago to an estimated 2.95 million tons, the government said last Friday.

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