Considering the 1.4 billion mouths to feed in China, it should come as no surprise that the People’s Republic is the world’s number 1 importer of rice.
Total rice imports by country cost China a total US$1.6 billion via purchases from 14 rice-supplying trade partners during 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 30.2% increase in cost since 2014 but a -12.5% decline from 2017 to 2018.
The vast majority of China’s rice imports originate from fellow Asian countries. The notable exceptions among these suppliers is strategically located Russia and much tinier amounts from the United States, Canada and Italy.
Top Providers of Chinese Imported Rice
Below are the 14 countries that supplied 100% of the rice imported into China during 2018.
- Vietnam: US$739.2 billion (46.2% of China’s total rice imports)
- Thailand: $508.4 billion (31.8%)
- Pakistan: $145.4 billion (9.1%)
- Cambodia: $122.8 billion (7.7%)
- Laos: $38 billion (2.4%)
- Myanmar (Burma): $31.5 billion (2%)
- Taiwan: $11.9 billion (0.8%)
- Japan: $1.9 billion (0.1%)
- Russia: $472,000 (0.03%)
- South Korea: $71,000 (0.004%)
- India: $42,000 (0.003%)
- United States: $3,000 (0.0002%)
- Italy: $2,000 (0.0001%)
- Philippines: $1,000 (0.0001%)
Two of China’s leading rice suppliers, Vietnam and Thailand, account for more than three-quarters (78%) of overall Chinese imported rice for 2018.
Further, the top 5 rice providers represent 97.1% of Chinese imports of the staple grain.
Fastest-Growing Suppliers of China’s Rice Imports
Chinese purchases of rice from its largest supplier Vietnam increased by nearly one-fifth (18.1%) over the 5-year period starting in 2014, below the overall average 30.2% which encompasses all of China’s rice suppliers where 2014 data is available.
- Myanmar (Burma): Up 886.4% since 2014
- Taiwan: Up 563.2%
- Laos: Up 455.8%
- Japan: Up 353%
- Cambodia: Up 287.7%
- Russia: Up 117.5%
- India: Up 100%
- Thailand: Up 27.2%
- Vietnam: Up 18.1%
- Pakistan: Down -8.4%
- Philippines: Down -50%
- United States: Down -98.3%
- South Korea: No 2014 data
- Italy: No 2014 data
Half of China’s rice suppliers posted at least triple-digit gains over the 5-year timeframe ending in 2018, ranging from a 100% gain for India up to the leading 886.4% increase for rice exporters in Myanmar (commonly called Burma).
The Philippines experienced the most severe cutback in rice provided to China, cut in half since 2014. Pakistan experienced a less severe reduction in its rice sales to mainland China via its -8.4% slowdown.
See also Rice Exports by Country, Rice Imports by Country and China’s Top 10 Exports
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 21, 2019
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 4, 2019
Wikipedia, Rice. Accessed on March 4, 2019