Weaker baht boosts rice exports in fourth quarter

Weaker baht boosts rice exports in fourth quarter

A rice farmer uses a motorised plough to prepare a flooded paddy field for planting, near the Mun River in tambon Tha Luang of Phimai district, Nakhon Ratchasima. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A rice farmer uses a motorised plough to prepare a flooded paddy field for planting, near the Mun River in tambon Tha Luang of Phimai district, Nakhon Ratchasima. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Rice exports are expected to pick up in the final quarter driven largely by a weaker baht, making Thai rice more competitive and prompting higher global demand.

Keerati Rushchano, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said rice exports started improving since June boosted by higher purchases from China, the Philippines, Cameroon, Malaysia, Mozambique and Singapore.

"Thailand's rice exports are expected to continually increase in the last quarter with more than 700,000 tonnes per month," he said, citing export permit documents in September.

Rice exports rose 124.87% to 877,555 tonnes, with the figures from Oct 1–18 rising by 47.11% to 380,234 tonnes over the same period of last year.

In the first eight months of this year, Thailand's rice exports tallied 3.18 million tonnes, down 14% from the same period of last year, with export value of 58.68 billion baht, down by 23.3% year-on-year.

"However, we still believe the country is on track to export 6 million tonnes of rice this year as targeted," he said, citing drivers including the weaker baht, declining global Covid-19 cases and the relaxation of lockdown measures worldwide.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said the weaker baht, which has depreciated 13% against the dollar this year, has resulted in lower export prices of Thai rice, making it more competitive against rival exporters.

Thailand's 5% broken rice prices were quoted at US$400 per tonne yesterday, lower than Vietnam's now quoted at $451 per tonne.

At the beginning of this year, Thai white rice prices were as high as $520 per tonne.

Buyers that have in recent years preferred Vietnamese rice such as Malaysia, the Philippines and China have started buying Thai rice again in recent weeks due to the attractive prices, boosting exporters' confidence that the 6-million-tonne target can be met, according to Mr Chookiat.

He said Thai rice production is expected to increase in the 2021/2022 harvest season, with milled rice production estimated at 20 million tonnes, up from 17 million tonnes in the 2020/2021 season.

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