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November 19, 2008

Global slowdown to hit Thai rice, chicken exports in 2009
Thailand's exports of rice and chicken are expected to be gloomy in 2009 due to the ongoing global economic slowdown and uncompetitive prices of Thai rice, state news agency TNA quoted industry experts as saying Tuesday.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, president of Thai Rice Exporters Association, said rice export trends for next year are not promising because Thailand's domestic rice prices had risen sharply in 2008 while a number of countries had encouraged more rice farming for their own consumption, while rice exporting countries also are growing more rice.

Taking these factors into consideration, the global rice trade in 2009 is projected to decline to around 28-28.5 million tonnes from this year's 30 million tonnes and it will cause hardships for Thailand's rice exporters, Chookiat said.

Local rice exporters have blamed the government's rice pledging programme for distorting the rice market, leaving huge stockpiles in state hands which has in turn led to a huge decline in orders from international buyers in recent months.

Thailand's rice exports in 2009 are expected to retreat to about 8.5 million tonnes from this year's 10 million tonnes while export revenues are also projected to fall. Exports of parboiled rice are expected to remain good but not 'fragrant' rice due to its high price.

Regarding chicken exports, Dr. Anan Sirimongkolkasem, president of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association, said exports in 2009 should decline because key importers -- including the US, Europe and Japan -- are suffering from economic slowdown.

Exports of cooked chicken are estimated at 350,000 tonnes and 10,000 tonnes of chicken meat in 2009 with combined value of Bt44 billion, down about 5 per cent from this year, said Dr. Anan.

He said the poultry industry still lacks workers although the export volume in 2009 is projected to fall.

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