International trade plays only a marginal role (4%) in meeting the world's rice requirements, but a considerable group of countries remains heavily dependent on rice exports as a source of foreign exchange to finance development programmes. The stability of international trade since 1955 has been largely due to the high degree of government control exercised on both sides of the market. Yet the longer range outlook is very uncertain. The upward trend in imports in past years has been largely a reflection of failure of importing countries to meet their own production objectives. The slow increase of imports into developed countries is unlikely to offset the loss of outlets in the traditional deficit areas (developing regions of the Far East, west Africa, the Near East and Latin America) which could occur if these countries succeed in their production objectives, thus leading to accumulation of surplus stocks.