BANGKOK, Jan 30 – The future of Thai rice exports remains dim this year while last year’s export volume at 6.94 million tonnes was 35 per cent lower than the preceding year, a leading rice exporter said today.
Predicting a further decline in Thailand’s rice exports to 6.5 million tonnes this year, Kobsuk Iamsuree, chairwoman of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said Thai exporters have encountered diverse challenges including tough competition in the global market, higher prices for Thai rice and the global economic slowdown.
Vietnam, the prominent exporter in the global market, has been aggressive and dumped its prices to compete with India while demands among major buyers like China, Indonesia and the Philippines have declined, she said.
Vietnam has taken Thailand’s rice markets while many countries have turned to a self-reliant policy, she said, adding that the fluctuating and appreciating Thai currency has also negatively impacted Thai rice exports.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicted this year’s global rice trade at 37.37 million tonnes, a reduction by 4.35 per cent compared to last year, and forecast that Thailand will be the world’s top exporter with an export volume of eight million tonnes, to be followed by India (7.5 million tonnes), Vietnam (7.4 million tonnes), Pakistan (3.8 million tonnes) and the US (3.45 million tonnes).
This year’s top importer will be Nigeria at 2.7 million tonnes, followed by China (2 million tonnes), Iran (1.6 million tonnes), the Philippines (1.5 million tonnes) and Indonesia (1.45 million tonnes).
Ms Kobsuk said the Thai government must urgently sell stockpiled rice on a government-to-government basis – a factor that may push up the export volume of Thai rice to eight million tonnes as predicted by the USDA.
She said the fact that 15 million tonnes of rice is in Thai stock will compel the country to release it as soon as possible but prices will not be high.