Thai rice exports drop during first two months of 2012


BANGKOK, March 2 – Thai rice shipments in January through Feb 23  were recorded at 465,000 tonnes, a 41 per cent drop year-on-year, according to Thai Rice Exporters Association President Korbsuk Iamsuree.

January’s rice exports in all rice categories dropped in quantity year-on-year because buyers shifted to parboiled rice from Pakistan, India and Vietnam, which offer cheaper prices than rice from Thailand.

Thai rice prices, now guaranteed under the government’s rice mortgage scheme, are less competitive, Ms Korbsuk said.

Vietnam’s five per cent white rice is the world’s lowest price at US$415 per tonne and its price is likely to fall even lower when more yields from new harvests hit the market.

Meanwhile, the same variety of rice from India and Pakistan costs $445 per tonne while Thai rice is more expensive at $525 per tonne.

However, Ms Korbsuk said Thai rice exports through February were expected to exceed 500,000 tonnes, supported by orders for Jasmine fragrant rice from regular markets in Asia.

Moreover, some parboiled rice buyers shifted their order to Thailand after exports of parboiled rice from India to their customers were delayed.

As Nigeria plans to raise its rice tariff, importers are hastening to import more rice before the tax measure is put in place.

She viewed that Thai rice exports in the first half of this year will slow down owing to impacts from rice exporting policies of its rivals such as India, which have increased its export target from two million tonnes to four million tonnes.

Vietnam is penetrating Thailand’s customary jasmine fragrant rice market and could gain added Asian market share at Thailand’s expense.  Vietnam has targeted exporting 400,000 tonnes of parboiled rice and 800,000 tonnes of jasmine fragrant rice annually.

Cambodia, Myanmar, Brazil, Uruguay and Pakistan also plan to expand their rice export markets and to increase export volumes.

Thailand has targeted exporting at least 6.5 million tonnes of rice this year. If there are positive signs, the targeted figure could be revised at the end of the first quarter.