Rice exporters keep target at 6.5m tonnes


The Thai Rice Exporters Association has maintained its 2013 rice-export target for the private sector at 6.5 million tonnes worth Bt145 billion, down by 6.4 per cent from last year, saying there are many negative factors offsetting the short- to medium-term positive factors.

The Commerce Ministry's forecast for the year is 8.5 million tonnes worth Bt171 million.

The US Agriculture Department has forecast the global rice trade this year at 37.58 million tonnes, a contraction of 4.01 per cent year on year. Stockpiles in India and Vietnam are estimated to be 104 million tonnes and 27.3 million tonnes, respectively. This means supply is high while demand is modest due to the global economic slowdown.

Jasmine rice remains in demand despite the high price. The association expects exports of fragrant rice to expand by 2 per cent year on year instead of 1.8 per cent in the last prediction.

The government's releases of its rice stocks at the market price help boost the supply of white rice for export. The association now sees the country's exports increasing by 2.7 per cent, up from 2.4 per cent in the last forecast, honorary president Chookiat Ophaswongse said yesterday. "The lower price will increase the Kingdom's competitiveness in the second half of this year," he said.

But Thai rice remains relatively expensive. Thai paddy rice was quoted at US$482 (Bt15,100) per tonne, Vietnamese rice at $260 per tonne and Indian rice at $237 per tonne as of Monday. The government's recently announced measures cannot stimulate exports, Chookiat said.

In the past six months, total rice exports reached 2.9 million tonnes worth Bt61.98 billion, down by 8.4 per cent in volume year on year, and by 7.78 per cent in value.

The association urged the government to gradually release its rice inventory and accept the losses from selling rice at the market price, which is much lower than the pledging price.