Thai chicken factories win Saudi export approval
After 18 years of suspended exports, 11 Thai chicken factories have been given permission by Saudi Arabia to export chilled and frozen fresh chicken, effective as of March 13.
According to Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, on March 13 the commercial ambassador in charge of the Saudi market and a charge d'affaires of the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry met with senior executives of the Saudi Food & Drug Authority and agreed that Saudi Arabia would allow chicken imports from 11 factories in Thailand.
The move came after Saudi authorities inspected those factories last year.
"This is very good news not only for Thailand but also for the overall chicken industry," said Mr Jurin.
Saudi Arabia currently imports 590,000 tonnes of chicken per year, 70% from Brazil and the remaining 30% from Ukraine and France.
"As a result of this permission, Thailand will have the opportunity to gain more market share in Saudi Arabia," Mr Jurin said. "I've assigned the commerce permanent secretary and director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department to discuss with the private sector and the Central Islamic Council of Thailand to prepare chicken exports under the condition of sufficient domestic consumption and least impact on domestic chicken prices."
Mr Jurin said he also aims to ramp up exports of other products to Saudi Arabia, and plans to organise a visit there to boost trade and investment between the two countries.
Overall, Thailand's chilled, frozen and processed chicken exports tallied 912,900 tonnes worth 102.529 billion baht last year.
Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said Thailand's chicken exports to Saudi Arabia in 2002 were valued at 56.9 million baht, followed by 4.8 million baht in 2003. After that, there were no chicken exports to Saudi Arabia due to the severing of diplomatic ties.
According to Mr Phusit, it remains too early to evaluate the chicken export outlook in Saudi Arabia this year because the department needs to consult with the Thai private sector and start promoting exports under the principle of minimal impact on domestic consumption and prices.