China’s Rice Imports by Country

Rice out of the bag (courtesy of

Rice out of the bag

Given 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.

Rice imports by country cost China a total US$1.6 billion in purchases from 12 rice-supplying trade partners in 2016. That dollar amount represents a 40.9% increase since 2012 and a 7.8% year-over-year uptick from 2015 to 2016.

Virtually all of China’s rice imports originate in fellow Asian countries. The only notable exception among these suppliers is Russia if you ignore a tiny amount supplied by Italy.

Top Providers of Chinese Imported Rice

Below are the 12 countries that supplied 100% of the rice imported into China for 2016:

  1. Vietnam: US$733.9 million (46.3% of China’s total rice imports)
  2. Thailand: $462.2 million (29.1%)
  3. Pakistan: $250.6 million (15.8%)
  4. Cambodia: $73.8 million (4.7%)
  5. Myanmar (Burma): $33.1 million (2.1%)
  6. Laos: $28.2 million (1.8%)
  7. Japan: $1.8 million (0.11%)
  8. Russia: $1.2 million (0.08%)
  9. South Korea: $695,000 (0.04%)
  10. Taiwan: $509,000 (0.03%)
  11. Italy: $4,000 (0.0003%)
  12. Switzerland: $2,000 (0.001%)
  13. Philippines: $1,000 (0.0001%)

Two of China’s leading rice suppliers, Vietnam and Thailand, account for three-quarters (75.4%) of overall Chinese imported rice for 2016.

China’s top 5 rice providers represent 98% of its rice imports.

Fastest-Growing Suppliers of China’s Rice Imports

Chinese purchases of rice from its largest supplier Vietnam increased by only 7.6% over the 5-year period ending in 2016, far below the overall average up 40.9% when available data is calculated for all rice-supplying trade partners.

  1. Cambodia: Up by 2,356% since 2012
  2. Myanmar (Burma): Up by 1,771%
  3. Japan: Up by 741.2%
  4. Russia: Up by 579.3%
  5. Laos: Up by 339.1%
  6. Thailand: Up by 197.7%
  7. Vietnam: Up by 7.6%
  8. Pakistan: Down by -6.8%
  9. Taiwan: Down by -61.6%
  10. South Korea: No data for 2012
  11. Italy: No data for 2012
  12. Philippines: No data for 2012

Over half of China’s rice suppliers posted at least triple-digit gains over the 5-year timeframe, far exceeding the percentage increase in Chinese purchases from Vietnam.

The Chinese province of Taiwan experienced a drastic reduction in its sales to mainland China, down by almost two thirds. The only other supplier with dwindling rice shipments to China since 2012 was Pakistan albeit with a much more modest decline.

See also Rice Exports by Country, Rice Imports by Country and China’s Top 10 Exports

Research Sources
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on November 10, 2017

The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on November 10, 2017

Wikipedia, Rice. Accessed on November 10, 2017