Strong Baht, Low Rice Production Weigh Down Thai Exports

A file photo of a harvest at a rice paddy in Thailand.

BANGKOK (Xinhua) — The Thai Rice Exporters Association said said on Monday that Thailand’s rice export this year is expected to drop from 7.5 million tons estimated at 130 billion baht (4.138 billion U.S. dollars) last year to 5 million tons estimated at 115 billion baht (3.66 billion U.S. dollars).

The association’s president Chookiat Ophaswongse, attributed the drop to the strengthening of the Thai baht and low rice production.

The price of Thai white rice is currently around 490 U.S. dollars per ton, compared to Vietnamese white rice at 460 U.S. dollars per ton, Indian at 370 U.S. dollars per ton and Myanmar at 420 U.S. dollars per ton, Chookiat said.

“For example, Malaysia only bought 40,000 tons of Thai white rice this year, compared to its usual 400,000 tons per year,” said Chookiat, adding “Malaysia had switched to rice from Vietnam, India and Myanmar instead.”

The association president said that the Philippines had imported 1.8 million tons of rice this year, of which 1.7 million tons came from Vietnam and only around 60,000 tons came from Thailand.

He said that the Philippines used to import around 500,000 tons of rice from Thailand.

Separately, Thailand has exported 4 million tons of rice in the first nine months of this year, averaging at between 300,000 and 400,000 tons monthly.

“So if Thailand wants to achieve the goal of exporting 6.5 million tons this year, then it will have to sell at least 500,000 tons monthly, which is very unlikely,” Chookiat said.