Hemp to be promoted in textile industry
The Commerce Ministry looks set to promote and upgrade hemp fibre in the Thai textile industry as it offers high potential in the global market under the popular bio-, circular and green economic model.
According to Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, the plan aligns with the government's ongoing efforts to push hemp as a new potential economic crop for commercial use.
Hemp and cannabis had been classified as narcotics under Category 5 under the Narcotics Act of Thailand for many years. The extensive medicinal properties of both cannabis and hemp have long been known.
In 2019, the possession and use of cannabis for medical and research purposes under certain conditions was legalised for the first time in Thailand.
In December 2020, the legalisation of cannabis and hemp became more concrete and conspicuous after many parts of the cannabis and hemp cultivated in Thailand were allowed to be exempted from being considered narcotics under Category 5 through a notification from the Public Health Ministry.
In early 2022, declassification of cannabis and hemp happened via another Public Health Ministry notification published in the Royal Gazette on Feb 9.
This notification "unlocked" cannabis and hemp from narcotic classification, creating opportunities for the general public and business owners to use them for a wider range of purposes.
"The department foresaw the potential to promote hemp in textiles and products for export because it is a natural fibre with many special properties," said Mr Phusit.
"The production process is environmentally friendly and able to respond to global market trends."
The world market for textiles and garments made from fibres and hemp products is now estimated at more than 140 billion baht, with the figures expected to grow by 22.4% between 2022 and 2027 based on growing demand.
In a move to capitalise on the global trend, the International Trade Promotion Department established a project to develop and promote the export of textiles and garments made from fibres and hemp products to tap into market demand worldwide.
In-depth market information and business development guidelines for hemp products will be provided to support Thai entrepreneurs to develop their products and enable them to compete in international markets.
In the first quarter of 2022, Thai textile product exports (excluding textile housing) tallied US$1.72 billion, up by 13.8% year-on-year. The most important export markets included the US, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, India and Germany.
The major export products comprised garments worth $602 million (34.9%), fabric and yarn worth $552 million (32%) and other textiles including artificial fibres, embroidered and lace fabrics, fishing nets, tailoring and crafted fabrics, shawls and scarves worth a combined $571 million (33.1%).