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Myanmar rice exports rising

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Myanmar plans to double rice exports, challenging Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia for sales amid a global glut. 

A Myanmar farmer plants rice seedling in a paddy field near Dala township, on the outskirts of Yangon. Myanmar is emerging as a new competitor in the rice export market, looking to challenge Thailand and other countries in the global market. (AP file photo)


Myanmar to double rice shipments


Bloomberg News agency

Farmers pour rice grains on a pile in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. (Bloomberg Photo)

Myanmar plans to more than double rice shipments as the country that used to be the largest exporter of the cereal grain embraces trade and opens its economy, challenging Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia for sales amid a global glut.

Shipments may increase to 2.5 million metric tonnes in 2014 and 2015 from an estimated 1.8 million tonnes in the year that started April 1, according to Toe Aung Myint, director-general of the Department of Trade Promotion at the Ministry of Commerce.

Exports are targeted to increase to 4.8 million tonnes in 2019 and 2020, Mr Toe said in an interview in Hong Kong.

Myanmar's shift to democracy after five decades of military rule and its reengagement with the global economy are spurring interest in the agricultural potential of one of Southeast Asia's poorest states. President Thein Sein said the country can supply food to the region, provided it attracts investment. While infrastructure bottlenecks and competition for sales are seen complicating the drive to increase shipments, the country’s exports are cheaper than output from rivals including Thailand.

"Myanmar has a capacity to produce more but its logistics do not allow them to export a large volume," said Mamadou Ciss, president of Alliance Commodities (Suisse) SA, which handles 400,000 tonnes a year. "Port facilities are very congested. It needs to work more on facilities and quality."

The price of Thai 5% broken white rice, an Asian benchmark, tumbled 24% to US$442 (14,000 baht) a tonne this year. World reserves will expand 1.2% to 109.3 million tonnes in 2013 and 2014 as stockpiles in the five largest exporters including Thailand, India and Vietnam expand to records, according to forecasts from the London-based International Grains Council. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of eight agricultural commodities slumped 20% in 2013.

'Cheap Rice'

"Cheap rice from Myanmar makes the grain become attractive, compared with Thailand and Vietnam, which are about $80 a tonne more expensive," said Kiattisak Kanlayasirivat, a Bangkok-based director at Ascend Commodities SA, which trades about 500,000 tonnes a year. "Sales will continue to increase."

Agricultural output has fallen behind potential and efforts to revive the industry can take advantage of rising food demand, McKinsey Global Institute said in a report in June, noting Myanmar used to be known as the "rice bowl of Asia."

Milled rice supply is expected to total 12.9 million tonnes this crop year, topping local demand of 11 million tonnes, and output may increase to 13.3 million tonnes next season, Mr Toe said. Export figures and forecasts include trade with China, which accounts for about half of total shipments, he said.

‘Produce More’

“We see promising opportunities in the sector because the global rice market grows and China demand increases,” Mr Toe said, listing China, African countries, Russia and Europe as buyers. “We have resources and can produce more to meet demand.”

The rice industry contributed about 13% of gross domestic product in 2011, and more than 70% of the population is connected with the trade, according to a presentation from Toe. Myanmar's strengths are low production costs, vast land and abundant water and labor, according to a 2012 study from the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Myanmar shares a border with China, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts rice imports by Asia’s largest economy will rise to 3.4 million tonnes next year, making it the biggest buyer. China’s purchases may total 5 million tonnes in 2014, according to Samarendu Mohanty, senior economist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Largest Shipper

Myanmar was the world’s biggest rice exporter from 1961 to 1963, with shipments of 1.6 million to 1.7 million tonnes a year, until it was displaced by neighbor Thailand, according to data from the USDA that starts in 1961. Exports fell as low as 15,000 tonnes in 1997. Last year, it shipped 690,000 tonnes to rank ninth worldwide.

A state rice-buying program in Thailand that has cost $21 billion has spurred output while swelling government stockpiles to a record and hurting prices. The Thai hoard will increase 18% to 14.9 million tonnes in 2013 and 2014, according to the IGC. Thailand shipped 7 million tonnes last year and was that season' s largest exporter after India and Vietnam, which traded 11 million tonnes and 7.2 million tonnes respectively, USDA data show.

Cambodia is also boosting exports, heightening competition. In November 2012, Prime Minister Hun Sen targeted shipments of 1 million tonnes by 2015 and called for investment. The USDA forecasts the 1 million tonne total may be reached next year.

Myanmar needs to develop infrastructure for processing, shipping and transport, Concepcion Calpe, a senior economist at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), wrote in an e-mail. The privatisation of rice exports in 2003 helped to unleash the sector’s potential, and the opening of land to overseas investors in 2010 was another milestone, Calpe said.

The country ranked 129th worldwide in a 2012 study of logistics by the Washington-based World Bank that assessed benchmarks including quality of infrastructure. Thailand placed 38th, Vietnam 53rd and Cambodia 101st.

About $320 billion needs to be invested in infrastructure by 2030 if the economy is to expand 8% a year, according to the McKinsey study. Transport networks are insufficient to support growing activity, the ADB said.

While loading a 20,000 deadweight-tonne vessel with rice takes about four days in Thailand or Vietnam, the task can take eight days in Myanmar at present, said Mr Kiattisak, the director at Ascend Commodities.

“Myanmar certainly has the potential to become one of the leading rice exporters, if not the leading one, in the medium run,” said the FAO's Mr Calpe. "It is one of the few countries in the region that faces no land, water or labor constraints and it is strategically located, having China and India as neighbours."

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abundant: more than enough - มากมาย

activity: a thing that you do for interest or pleasure, or in order to achieve a particular aim - กิจกรรม

agricultural: of the science or practice of farming - ที่เกี่ยวกับเกษตรกรรม

amid: at the same time as - ท่ามกลาง

assess: to carefully consider a situation, person, or problem in order to make a judgment - ประเมิณ, ประเมิณสถานการณ์

attract: to cause someone to be interested in something - ดึงดูดความสนใจ

benchmark: a standard that other things can be compared to, for example, to calculate prices - ตัวเปรียบเทียบ; การวัดเปรียบเทียบสมรรถนะเกณฑ์มาตรฐานหมายถึง การทดสอบเพื่อวัดความสามารถในการประมวลผล หรือการทำงานของ โปรแกรมใดโปรแกรมหนึ่ง หรืออุปกรณ์คอมพิวเตอร์ชนิดใดชนิดหนึ่ง โดยเทียบเคียงกับเกณฑ์มาตรฐาน

boost: to increase - เพิ่ม

border: the official line separating two areas, regions or countries - เขตแดน อาณาเขต

bottleneck: a problem that causes something to slow down and not work normally - คอขวด

capacity: the amount of something that can be produced - ความสามารถในการ (ผลิต)

challenge: to invite someone to compete or fight - ท้า

commodity: a product or a raw material that can be bought and sold - โภคภัณฑ์

competition: a situation in which people or organizations compete, i.e., try to be more successful or better than somebody else who is trying to do the same as you - การแข่งขัน

complicate: to make something more difficult to deal with, do or understand - ทำให้ยาก, ทำให้ซับซ้อน

congested: too blocked or crowded and causing difficulties - แน่นขนัด

connected: linked - เชื่อมต่อ เชื่อมโยง

constraint: something which controls what you do by keeping you within particular limits; something that limits your freedom to do what you want - ข้อจำกัด

data: facts or information, especially when examined and used to find out things or to make decisions - ข้อมูล, ตัวเลข, สถิติ

decades: periods of ten years - เป็นสิบๆปี

demand: the need and desire of people to buy goods - อุปสงค์

director: one of a group of senior managers who run a company - กรรมการบริษัท

displace: to move something from its usual position - ทำให้เคลื่อนออก

double: to become twice as big, twice as much or twice as many - เพิ่มเป็นสองเท่า

drive: a planned effort to achieve something - การผลักดัน,ความพยายาม

embrace: to accept something such as a belief, idea, or way of life - ยอมรับ น้อมนำมา

estimated: thought to be a particular amount, size, etc. based on a guess or the best information available - ประมาณการ

expand: to make or become larger - ขยาย เพิ่ม

facility: a building, equipment, etc., used for a particular purpose - โรงงาน, สถานบริการ, สิ่งก่อสร้าง, สิ่งอำนวยความสะดวก

forecast: a statement about what will happen in the future based on information available now - การพยากรณ์, การคาดการณ์

global: throughout the world - ทั่วโลก

glut: over-supply, when there is too much supply of a good on the market, the people who want to buy the good (demand) is much less than the amount of good available to buy in the market (supply) - ปริมาณมากเกินต้องการ, จำนวนเหลือเฟือ

grain: the small hard seeds of food plants such as wheat, rice, etc; a single seed of such a plant - เมล็ดข้าว, เมล็ดพืช

gross domestic product: the total value of all goods and services produced in a country in a year, except for income received from money invested in other countries. It is often simply called GDP - ผลิตภัณฑ์มวลรวมภายในประเทศ

growth: economic growth, an increase in economic activity - การเติบโต

hoard: a large amount of something that someone has saved and hidden - สิ่งที่เก็บสะสม

import: to buy or bring in products from another country - นำเข้า

infrastructure: a set of systems within a place or organisation that affect how well it operates, e.g., the telephone and transport systems in a country or the system of train tracks that a railway uses - สาธารณูปโภค

insufficient: not enough - ไม่เพียงพอ

interview: to ask someone questions for a poll, a newspaper article, television show, etc. - สัมภาษณ์,

investment: the act of investing money in something - การลงทุน

labour: people whose job involves hard physical work that is not skilled, especially work that is done outdoors - กรรมกร, ผู้ใช้แรงงาน

leading: among the first and most important in a group - ชั้นหนึ่ง, ชั้นแนวหน้า, ชั้นนำ

load: to put a lot of things into a vehicle or machine; to put bullets into a gun or ammunition into a weapon - ใส่,บรรจุ

logistics: the practical arrangements that are necessary in order to organise something successfully, especially something involving a lot of people or equipment - การส่งกำลังบำรุง

milestone: an event or achievement that marks an important stage in a process - เหตุการณ์สำคัญ (ที่ควรบันทึกไว้)

military: connected with soldiers or the armed forces - ในทางทหาร,เกี่ยวกับทหาร

neighbour: someone (or towns, cities, countries) who lives or is located near you - เพื่อนบ้าน

network: a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. - เครือข่าย

opportunity: a chance to do something, or a situation in which it is easy for you to do something - โอกาส

output: the amount of something produced - ปริมาณ(กระแสไฟฟ้า)ที่ผลิตขึ้น

overseas: in another country - ต่างประเทศ

population: a particular group of people or animals living in a particular area - กลุ่มที่อาศัยอยู่ในที่เดียวกัน

port: a place where boats and ships stop and unload and load goods - ท่าเรือ

potential: qualities that exist and can be developed - ศักยภาพที่จะพัฒนาได้

potential: what is possible - ความเป็นไปได้

present: this time, happening now, happening currently - ปัจจุบันนี้

presentation: a formal talk given to an audience on some subject or topic - การนำเสนอ, การนำเสนอข้อมูล

privatisation: the sale of a business or industry that was owned and managed by the government -

processed: treated in some way, e.g., treated with chemicals, cut, etc. -

production: the process of growing or making food, goods or materials, especially large quantities - การผลิต

promising: likely to be successful or very good - มีอนาคตดี,มีความหวัง

purchase: something that has been bought - ของที่ซื้อมา

quality: the standard of something when it is compared to other things like it; how good or bad something is - คุณภาพ

rank: someone’s official position in the armed forces, police, fire services, etc. - ยศ, ตำแหน่ง

rank: to put someone or something into a position according to their success, importance, size etc - จัดลำดับ

record: the best or most ever achieved - สถิติ

reengagement: becoming involved with again -

region: a large area of land, usually without exact limits or borders - ภูมิภาค, ขอบเขต, แถบ, บริเวณ

reserve: something currently not being used but that can be used when needed - สำรองไว้

resources: things that you need to achieve something - ทรัพยากรที่มีอยู่

respectively: in the order in which they were mentioned - ตามลำดับ

rival: a person you are competing against or opposing - คู่แข่ง

rule: control over the government of a country - การปกครอง

season: a period of time during the year - ช่วงเวลา, ระยะเวลา, ฤดูกาล

sector: a part of a country’s economic or business activity - ภาค (เศรษฐกิจ)

senior: with a high rank or position - อาวุโส

share: to have or use something at the same time as someone else - ใช้ร่วมกัน

shift: a change in something - การเปลี่ยน

shipment: a load of goods that are sent from one place to another - ปริมาณสินค้าที่ขนส่งในครั้งหนึ่ง ๆ

slump: sitting or falling down heavily - การงอตัว, การทรุดตัวลง

spur: to cause something to happen - ก่อให้เกิด 

state: government - รัฐ

stockpile: a large collection of things that may be needed - สิ่งที่เก็บสะสมไว้ คลังสินค้า

stockpile: to collect large amounts of things that may be needed - เก็บสะสมไว้ใน

strategic: carefully planned in order to achieve a particular goal, especially in war, business, or politics - ทางยุทธศาสตร์

supply: to provide somebody/something with something that they need or want, especially in large quantities - จัดหาให้, จัดส่งให้

swell: to become or cause to become larger than normal - บวม, ทำให้บวม, ทำให้พอง

target: a particular number or amount that you want to achieve - เป้าหมาย

task: something that you have to do - งาน, หน้าที่; ภารกิจ

the medium run: in between the "short run" or the "long run" -

trade: a type of business - การค้าขาย

trade: the buying and selling of goods and services - การค้าขาย

transport: moving people or things from one place to another - การขนส่ง

tumble: to fall down - ล้ม,ล้มลง,ตกลง,หกคะเมน

unleash: to release suddenly a strong, uncontrollable and usually destructive force - ปล่อย, ก่อให้เกิดผลรุนแรง

vast: extremely large in size or amount, etc. - มากมาย

vessel: a boat or ship - เรือ

volume: an amount of something - ปริมาณ

worldwide: throughout the world - ทั่วโลก

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