Thai rice exports drop 45% in first half of 2012

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BANGKOK, July 25- Thai rice exports in the first six months of this year dropped by 45 per cent to 3.45 million tonnes from a year earlier as its prices still stayed higher than rival exporters, according to the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

Total rice exports in the first half of this year were valued at some Bt71.4 billion, down from Bt107.6 billion year-on-year, Korbsook Iamsuri, association president, announced Wednesday.

The major markets were in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East respectively.

Among the world’s top five rice exporters as of July 10, India remained the top rice exporter with the exported volume of 3.61 million tonnes, followed by Vietnam with 3.52 tonnes of exported rice.

Meanwhile, the association projected that Thailand will export about 3.05 million tonnes of rice, worth Bt50 billion, in the second half of the year, Ms Korbsook said.

Thai rice exports in 2012 were targeted at 6.5 million tonnes in total with the value of Bt120 billion, dropping from 10.65 million tonnes exported in 2011.

As a result, Thailand will lose its status of the world’s number one rice exporter to India with estimated exports of eight million tonnes. Vietnam places second with seven million tonnes of rice shipped.

The total volume of the country’s rice exports was targeted at eight million tonnes in 2013, the Thai Rice Exporters Association president announced.

She also pointed out that the negative factors in the Thai rice exports were India’s hefty stockpiles which were enough for the whole year’s exports, the weakening of the rupee and falling demand for rice from Indonesia and the Philippines.

The lower demand from Indonesia and the Philippines resulted in fierce price competition between Vietnam and India, Ms Korbsook said, explaining that Vietnam tried to sharply cut its rice price which brought down the price in the global market.

Meanwhile, the association said it was willing to discuss with state agencies to find a solution to the government’s huge rice stockpile.

To release about 10 million tonnes of rice in the government’s stockpile to the global market, Chukiat Opaswong, honorary president of Thai Rice Export Association, advised the government to sell at a lower price of US$430-450 a tonne in order to compete with Vietnam. This will cause a loss of $350 per tonne to the government with average cost of $800 a tonne.