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October 31, 2007

Thai rice sales surging as India, Vietnam struggle

Thai exporters will be making aggressive offers to sell their rice over the next few months on tightening world supplies, and a strengthening local currency is unlikely to discourage overseas sales. Thai suppliers are seeing a flood of inquiries for its rice cargoes as a ban on exports by India and limited availability from Vietnam have added to the strained supply chain. "The Indian ban has turned the spotlight on Thailand," Chookiat Ophaswong, president of the Thai Rice Exporters' Assocication told Reuters. Global rice prices have risen 10-15 percent, compared with the same time a year earlier, reflecting strong demand but relatively lower availability.

In the first two weeks of this month, following India's export ban, Thai rice exports surged 84 percent to 418,000 tonnes from the 227,000 tonnes in the whole of October last year. Thai rice exports in the January to September period were up 16.7 percent to 6.6 million tonnes. For the full year, Thai rice exports could rise more than 13 percent to 8.5 million tonnes from last year's 7.5 million tonnes, industry and government officials said. "I'm confident that we could achieve our goal of 8.5 million tonnes this year and would export more next year as demand remains strong," Thai Commerce Minister Krik-krai Jirapaet said. India, struggling to rein in rising food prices, banned export of some grades of rice earlier this month to ensure it had enough for its more than 1 billion people following flood damage to its rice crop.

Courtesy Reuters

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