Bright prospects for rice exports

Bright prospects for rice exports

Officials see 10m tonnes shipped this year and next on robust global demand

Workers arrange rice for export at a processing plant in Ayutthaya province. The Foreign Trade Department says Thai rice prices are competitive in the world market.
Workers arrange rice for export at a processing plant in Ayutthaya province. The Foreign Trade Department says Thai rice prices are competitive in the world market.

Trade officials expect rice exports to remain strong next year at a minimum of 10 million tonnes, boosted by continuously robust purchase demand.

According to Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, the prospects for Thai rice exports are likely to stay in good shape until next year, with shipment volume expected to be on a par with the 10 million tonnes predicted for this year.

Mr Adul cited a forecast by the US Department of Agriculture that global rice imports will increase to 49.5 million tonnes of milled rice next year from 48.67 million tonnes this year.

Thai rice prices are also competitive in the world market, he said.

As of Aug 1, 2018, Thailand had exported 6.4 million tonnes, down 0.2% year-on-year, with an export values of US$3.26 billion, up 17.9%.

According to Mr Adul, department officials are scheduled to speak with Chinese counterparts to follow up on China's plan to buy an additional 1 million tonnes of rice this year as part of an investment package that includes the initial high-speed rail project and sales of 2 million tonnes of rice and 200,000 tonnes of rubber agreed earlier.

Thai officials and their Chinese counterparts signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in December 2014 for 1 million tonnes each of old and new grains, along with the 200,000 tonnes of rubber.

The MoU was part of the Sino-Thai high-speed rail deal.

Thailand has already signed a 1-million-tonne contract for delivery this year.

Since the May 2014 coup, 16.84 million tonnes of state rice stocks have been sold through auctions, fetching 145.86 billion baht.

The government controls just 70,000 tonnes of state rice stocks now, all of it inedible. Of the total, 20,000 tonnes will be sold for animal feed and the remaining 50,000 tonnes is earmarked for ethanol or biomass production.

The department's responsible officials are scheduled to call an auction for the remaining state rice stocks some time this month.

In a related development, Mr Adul said the Foreign Trade Department expects to be able to finalise the exact amount of state rice stocks accrued by previous governments before the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) assumed management.

The State Audit Office, which was assigned by the Rice Policy and Management Committee as an independent unit to handle the audit of state rice stocks controlled by two key state agencies (the Public Warehouse Organisation and the Marketing Organisation for Farmers), reported on July 2, 2014 that the government controlled a total of 18.7 million tonnes.

But the audit committee established by the NCPO to check out the state rice stocks later found that the supply totalled just 17.76 million tonnes -- meaning about 940,000 tonnes of rice stocks went missing.

"By September, we expect to have a conclusion on whether the questionable 940,000 tonnes of state rice stocks is really missing or it's just a numerical error," Mr Adul said. "But we all can rest assured that there must be people to take responsibility if the conclusion is reached that such an amount of rice stocks is really missing."

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