Thailand to reclaim world’s leading rice exporter role next year


BANGKOK, Nov 20 – Thailand is maintaining its original projection to export seven million tonnes of rice this year and is set to reclaim its previous role as world’s top rice exporter next year, according to the Commerce Ministry.

Deputy Prime Minister/Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan will today sign an agreement to sell rice and tapioca to representatives of the Chinese government following an earlier expressed intention by China to buy 1.2 million tonnes of rice from Thailand.

Surasak Riangkrul, director general of the Foreign Trade Department, said 400,000 tonnes of rice in stocks countrywide will in addition be sold to more than 30 exporters.

He said the Commerce Ministry has repaid Bt140 billion from rice sales in the pledging scheme and another batch of Bt24 billion will be returned (to the Finance Ministry) next month.

A total of Bt164 billion will be paid this year and the ministry plans to return Bt130 billion next year, at an average Bt12 billion per month, he said.

Mr Surasak said the Commerce Ministry was negotiating to sell rice on government-to-government basis to China, and countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

He predicted a positive trend for Thai rice sales next year as several countries including India and Vietnam will possibly export less after their crops were hit by natural disasters.

The Commerce Ministry is coordinating with the Foreign Ministry to deliver rice to help typhoon-ravaged Philippines, he added.

Mr Surasak said four private companies joined an auction yesterday to buy 452,000 tonnes of rice from the Commerce Ministry.

Bid results will be announced today after which price negotiations will be held.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) is offering Bt75 billion worth of bonds with a three-year maturity to generate extra funds for the rice subsidy plan, said Suvich Rojanavanich, deputy director of the Public Debt Management Office.

Total bonds issued by 13 Thai state enterprises are currently valued at Bt706.978 billion with the BAAC offered the highest value of Bt205 billion mainly to subsidise the rice pledging scheme.