Exporters make wish list
Market mechanism championed for rice
Exporters are calling for the new government to refrain from policies that interfere with the market mechanism and to continue promoting Thai rice through marketing.
They are also asking for the state to allow private-sector actors, be they exporters, millers or farmers, to make suggestions on how to improve the industry's development.
"No matter which parties make up the new government coalition, the policies to promote Thai industry should focus on policy and action plans to promote farmers' awareness of the quality of rice and market-driven production so that Thailand can maintain competitiveness and leadership in the global rice market," Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, told Thailand Rice Convention (TRC) 2019 on Tuesday.
The TRC is an international forum initiated by Thailand for rice stakeholders throughout the value chain to connect, learn and share. The TRC aims to reinforce the country's internationally recognised stature as a world leader in rice trade and exports while promoting rice and rice-based products.
The event highlights the vast varieties and unique characteristics of Thai rice, such as fragrance, nutritional value and medicinal properties.
TRC 2019 is not only an international platform for rice traders and stakeholders along the rice value chain from Thailand and worldwide to share their views, experiences and visions on the global rice market, but also an opportunity to enhance partnership among trading partners, regulators and members of rice-related organisations in both the private and public sectors from around the world.
Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, warned that the deepening trade row between the US and China and the global economic slowdown could pressure Thai rice exports in the second half of the year.
For the whole year, Mr Chookiat said rice exporters forecast Thailand to ship 9.5 million tonnes, 500,000 tonnes shy of the Commerce Ministry's forecast and 1.6 million tonnes less than the total shipped in 2018.
Thailand's rice shipments are projected to be second to India's, which are set to reach 10.5 million tonnes this year, while Vietnam is expected to ship 6.5 million tonnes.
For the first four months of this year, Thailand shipped 3.1 million tonnes, averaging 800,000 tonnes a month.
Shipments totalled 11.1 million tonnes last year, down 5% from 11.7 million in 2017 but higher than the 9.91 million tonnes in 2016.
Export value rose 8.3% last year to $5.61 billion from $5.18 billion in 2017 and $4.40 billion in 2016. Rice export prices averaged $507 per metric tonne last year, up 14.1% from 2017.
Of the total, white rice made up 5.49 million tonnes (+17.4% year-on-year), including parboiled rice at 2.71 million tonnes (-19.9%), hom mali fragrant rice at 1.27 million tonnes (-22.1%), white broken rice at 390,000 tonnes (-0.7%), hom mali broken rice at 380,000 tonnes (-43.2%), general fragrant rice at 260,000 tonnes (+18.6%), broken glutinous rice at 200,000 tonnes (-32.3%) and glutinous rice at 180,000 tonnes (-15.7%).
The association forecasts Thailand to ship 4.8 million tonnes of white rice this year, including 2.4 million tonnes of parboiled rice, 1.3 million tonnes of hom mali fragrant rice, 600,000 tonnes of general fragrant rice and 400,000 tonnes of glutinous rice.