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 third-biggest importer of rice behind Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Total rice imports by country cost China a total US$1.25 billion via purchases from 14 rice-supplying trade partners during 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -14.9% decrease in cost since 2015 and a -21.6% reduction from 2018 to 2019.
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 Canada, Italy, the United States and Germany.
Top Providers of Chinese Imported Rice
Below are the 14 countries that supplied 100% of the rice imported by China during 2019.
- Thailand: US$345.7 million (27.6% of China’s total rice imports)
- Vietnam: $240.7 million (19.2%)
- Pakistan: $234.9 million (18.7%)
- Myanmar (Burma): $203.6 million (16.2%)
- Cambodia: $171.5 million (13.7%)
- Laos: $34.8 million (3%)
- Taiwan: $18.2 million (1.45%)
- Japan: $3.6 million (0.28%)
- India: $515,000 (0.04%)
- Russia: $148,000 (0.012%)
- Canada: $12,000 (0.001%)
- Italy: $10,000 (0.0008%)
- United States: $5,000 (0.0004%)
- Germany: $1,000 (0.0001%)
Two of China’s leading rice suppliers, Thailand and Vietnam, account for almost half (46.8%) of China’s imported rice for 2019.
The top 5 rice providers represent 95% of Chinese imports of the staple grain.
Fastest-Growing Suppliers of China’s Rice Imports
Chinese purchases of rice from its largest supplier Thailand shrank by almost one-third (-32.1%) year over year, more severe than the overall -21.6% drop which encompasses statistics for all of China’s rice suppliers (where 2018 data is available).
- India: Up 1,126% since 2018
- Myanmar (Burma): Up 545.9%
- Italy: Up 400%
- Japan: Up 90%
- United States: Up 66.7%
- Pakistan: Up 61.6%
- Taiwan: Up 52.3%
- Cambodia: Up 39.6%
- Canada: No 2018 data
- Germany: No 2018 data
- Laos: Down -8.4%
- Thailand: Down -32%
- Vietnam: Down -67.4%
- Russia: Down -68.6%
In contrast, two of China’s top rice suppliers enjoyed double-digit increases in their annual sales to the People’s Republic from 2018 to 2019 surpassed only by the 1,126% gain for India. Five other major trade partners posted double-digit increases in their rice shipments to China.
The severest reductions year over year were experienced by rice suppliers in Russia and Vietnam.
See also Rice Exports by Country, Rice Imports by Country and China’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports – Commodities. Accessed on May 5, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 5, 2020
Wikipedia, Rice. Accessed on May 5, 2020