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Vietnam sold 368,000 tons of rice abroad for a total of $164 million, in October, raising total rice exports to $1.9 billion (4.2 million tons), according to the statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Rice exports fell 21.2 percent in quantity and 16.9 percent in value compared to the previous year. However, average rice exports in the first nine months of the year managed to fetch $449/ton, up 4.8 percent year-on-year.
The decline in consumption can be traced back to a decrease in imports from many markets.
China, Vietnam's biggest customer, only imported 1.35 million tons (equal to $613.8 million), down 23 percent in quantity and 13.9 percent in value year-on-year.
Vietnam also suffered from a drop in rice export values from other countries such as the Philippines (47.8 percent), Malaysia (47.4 percent), Singapore (34.6 percent), the U.S. (32 percent), the Ivory Coast (25.2 percent) and Hong Kong (11.4 percent).
However, dramatic growth in other markets softened those declines.
Indonesia, the fourth biggest buyer of Vietnamese rice, imported 359,400 tons ($142.5 million), a 22.5 fold annual increase, in terms of quantity.
Angola more than quadrupled its annual imports. Ghana, the second-biggest importer behind China with 11 percent of the market share, purchased 387,700 tons in the last nine months at $189.6 million -- a 36.2 percent increase in value year-on-year.
According to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) Ghana consumes around 1.6 million tons of rice per year and the country depends on imports to cover more than half of that amount. Among its suppliers, Vietnam offers lower prices than Thailand and India.
VFA said the country must turn to Africa to ease dependence on the highly competitive Chinese market, where border trade management has tightened.
The organization also announced that the Philippines will import 293,100 tons of rice from Vietnam to accommodate demand in 2017. This presents a chance for Vietnamese companies to improve rice sales during this difficult time.
VFA lowered its annual forecast for rice exports for the first time in eight years. Shipments for the whole year are now expected at around 5.6 million tons, compared to last year's 6.6 million tons.
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