Government vows to ramp up export measures
The government pledges to ramp up trade, particularly with Iraq, the Philippines, Japan, China, India, Turkey and New Zealand, as an urgent move to spur exports in the remaining months of the year.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, who chaired the war room meeting yesterday to deal with the impact of the ongoing trade war, said to offset the trade war and baht appreciation Thailand needs to emphasise those markets.
"The government is committed to focusing not only on regular buyers but also traditional trading partners," he said. "For old markets, the government should try to revive government-to-government [G2G] rice deals with Iraq, which suspended its rice purchases from Thailand in 2016 because of concerns about quality."
Mr Jurin said the Iraqi government already informed the Thai government of its interest in buying rice under a G2G contract. He said his ministry is working with the private sector to negotiate with the Iraqis for a G2G deal with certified quality this year.
Iraq used to buy 700,000-800,000 tonnes a year during 2011-13, dropping to 111,500 in 2014 and 83,350 in 2015.
Iraq has not bought any Thai rice since 2016, as the country was concerned after finding that the 100% white rice delivered from Thailand during the Yingluck Shinawatra government was of poor quality.
In 2018, the Iraq Grain Board of the Trade Ministry imported 735,516 tonnes of rice, mainly from Vietnam, Uruguay, the US, Argentina and Paraguay.
Last year Iraq imported 320,235 tonnes from Vietnam, followed by 185,707 tonnes from Uruguay, 126,131 tonnes from the US, 63,081 tonnes from Argentina and 30,362 tonnes from Paraguay.
Mr Jurin said the government will speed up talks with the Chinese government to deliver the remaining 300,000 tonnes under the 1 million tonne G2G contract made with the previous government.
For the Philippines, the ministry pledges to hold more business matching after the Philippine government changed the means of rice purchase from auctions under the G2G deal to imports from the private sector. As well, the negotiations with Japanese buyers will continue to increase rice import quotas for Thailand, he said.
In its best bid to boost exports in the remaining months, the Commerce Ministry will also come up with proactive marketing in Southern China and new markets including India, Turkey and New Zealand.
Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, chairwoman of the Thai National Shippers' Council, said the government needs to foster closer cooperation between the Agriculture and Industry ministries if it wants to drive shipments of agriculture, food and rubber products.
The government's price guarantee scheme for farmers is also expected to increase production costs for intermediate and downstream processors, she said.
"Exporters are still maintaining the country's export forecast at 0 to -1% this year," she said. "The forecast has already taken into account the trade war's impact."