The General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) has requested local customs authorities to stop export clearance process for rice from March 24, local media reported.
The GDVC cited the instruction of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on ensuring national food security amid the Covid-19 pandemic as reason for its decision.
Neighboring countries are reported to have increased purchases of Vietnamese rice recently.
Additionally, rice products under HS code of 1006.20, 1006.30, and 1006.40 would now be banned from exporting.
However, for rice exporters that have completed filling out customs declaration forms before the above deadline could still go ahead as usual.
The GDVC requested customs authorities at provinces/cities to step up efforts against rice smuggling via land borders.
On the same day, the Ministry of Finance requested the General Department of State Reserves to ensure sufficient food reserves under the year’s plan to prepare for any emergencies.
At a national online conference on national food security on March 18, PM Phuc stressed the issue remains significant to countries all over the world, particularly at the time of the current crisis.
Food security is quickly becoming an urgent issue as the world’s population is increasing and natural disasters are becoming more frequent, Phuc said, adding globally nearly 900 million people are starving.
In the first three months of 2020, Vietnam’s rice exports increased 34.6% year-on-year to 1.3 million tons worth US$602 million, up 26.5% year-on-year in value, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
The MARD estimated rice export volume in 2020 could be around 6.5 – 6.7 million tons due to growing market demand, higher than the volume exported in 2019 of 6.37 million tons.