ASEAN Business Advisory Council chair Joey Concepcion (file photo)

MANILA – Cambodian businessmen are urged to directly export its rice paddy to the Philippines and process it here to enhance trade and investment between the two Southeast Asian countries, Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said on Monday.

Concepcion, who is the chair of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC), said Cambodia could be a large exporter of rice.

However, unprocessed rice paddy from Cambodia is sent to Vietnam where the commodity is being processed before being exported to other countries like the Philippines.

"So, akala natin itong mga rice na dumarating dito ay talagang grown and exported from Vietnam pero iyon ay galing sa Cambodia and they processed it with Vietnam (So what we think is that the rice that enters here are grown and exported from Vietnam but this actually comes from Cambodia and they processed it with Vietnam)," he said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

Concepcion said the Philippine business delegation during the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh last week discussed with the Cambodian counterparts to explore opportunities in the rice sector here, such as direct exports of rice paddy and investing in processing plants in the Philippines.

"So, isang suggestion namin sa Cambodian businessmen, na sana ay baka pwedeng opportunity iyan ng Pilipinas na lang ang magpu-process, So, kung pwede nilang gawin ay to guide us through, at may mga negosyante dito na baka pwedeng magtayo ng mga processing plant para sa rice; at mukhang positibo naman ang mga Cambodian delegation tungkol dito (So one of our suggestions to the Cambodian businessmen is maybe it can be an opportunity for the Philippines to process it. So, what they can do is to guide us through and there are entrepreneurs here who can put up these processing plants for rice; and it seems that the Cambodian delegation is optimistic about this)," he added.

According to the Bureau of Plant Industry, 82 percent or 2.46 million metric tons of the country's rice imports are sourced from Vietnam from January to September this year.

Data from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) show that Cambodia increased its paddy production to 10.9 million tons in 2020 from 8 million tons in 2012.

The ADB said Cambodia also has surplus rice, which could be sold in the world market.

Cambodia sends unprocessed rice paddy to Thailand or Vietnam, which have better processing to ensure consistency in the quality of rice exports, and also have big storage capacity and wider distribution systems. (PNA)