Steps capping wheat imports may be lifted
Domestic feed meal price up amid conflict
The government is mulling lifting measures to cap wheat imports after domestic feed meal prices surged because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said he ordered the secretary of the Maize Policy and Management Committee to hold an urgent meeting to review the measures that require importers to purchase domestic maize at a ratio of 1:3.
The government imposed a cap on wheat imports in 2016 with the aim of shoring up domestic maize and cassava prices.
The joint meeting between the permanent secretaries of the Commerce and Agriculture and Cooperatives ministries on Tuesday pledged to reduce the impact of higher production costs of animal feed and livestock products.
One of the proposals put forward at the joint meeting is to temporarily suspend the measure to cap wheat imports which requires importers to purchase domestic maize at a ratio of 1:3 until July 31 this year.
A working panel would later reassess the appropriate volume of imports.
However, the Maize Policy and Management Committee is responsible for approving the appropriate proportion of wheat imports and the suspension period before submitting the decision to the cabinet for final approval.
According to Mr Jurin, higher domestic feed meal costs stem largely from a rise in prices of three important raw materials: maize, wheat and fish meal. The price of domestic maize is considered to be very high at present, quoted at 11-11.50 baht per kilogramme from 6-8 baht per kg during normal periods, while the government -- through its farmers' income guarantee scheme -- offers a guaranteed price of 8.50 baht per kg.
The Russia-Ukraine war has driven global wheat prices up as Ukraine is the world's biggest wheat exporter, he said.
"The Commerce Ministry is considering the proposals under the principle of mutual benefits involving three parties comprising maize farmers, livestock farmers and animal feed operators. The approval should ensure that consumers overall will not be affected and suffer from a higher cost of living," said Mr Jurin.
Commerce permanent secretary Boonyarit Kalayanamit said the meeting with his counterpart in the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry did not consider the proposal of feed meal producers to waive import tariffs on wheat, which are now levied at 2%.
Regarding the efforts to handle higher fertiliser prices, Mr Boonyarit said permission for fertiliser suppliers to raise domestic prices would be made on a case-by-case basis.
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry promises to promote the production of organic fertiliser and biofertiliser to avoid a shortage and serve as a substitute for expensive chemical fertiliser, he said.