Vietnam\'s total rice export is estimated to reach between 7 to 7.2 million tons in 2013, lower than the target of 7.5 million tons, due to low export levels and falling prices, according to the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) on Thursday. Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) showed that in September alone, only 471,000 tons of rice was exported, earning 214 million US dollars, much lower than the set target of 750,000 tons. As a result, in the first nine months of this year, the country shipped abroad a total of 5.35 million tons of rice, worth 2.35 billion dollars, a year-on-year decrease of 14.3 percent in volume and 16.7 percent in value. According to the VFA, Vietnam\'s rice export market faced many difficulties as supply outstripped demand, while rivals from Thailand, India and Pakistan had their rice prices fallen closer to those of Vietnam. Vietnamese rice price declined 14.36 US dollars per ton to stand at 431 US dollars per ton, equal to those of India and Pakistan, making it hard to enter into those markets due to transport costs. So far this year, China remained as Vietnam\'s biggest rice importer with 1.62 million tons, accounting for 31.4 percent of the country\'s total rice exports. The figures posted an increase of 3.2 percent in volume and 1 percent in value. Vietnam achieved a record in rice export in 2012 when the country exported over 7.7 million tons, pocketing nearly 3.5 billion US dollars, according to the VFA. Under MARD\'s plan, Vietnam would have just 150 rice exporters by 2015 to establish large production zones for in-depth business strategies.