ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai rice exports to continue strong
Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai said that despite the floods, rice exports will not decline. She said export quality, not quantity, will be the focus the next five years, particularly for premium-grade rice.
Mrs. Porntiva said with the focus on quality, the value of rice exports could increase to 500 billion baht or more.
She also said Thailand will cooperate closely with neighbors such as Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to curb price-cutting by them, while the country will help with marketing.
Global rice prices are expected to be volatile next year but generally on an uptrend, as natural disasters have dampened output worldwide while demand remains high.
However, Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut said in an interview that output from this year's main harvest may fall below previous estimates, as the worst floods in five decades have devastated crops.
It could be the worst damage to rice crops since the 2006 floods, he said.
Mr. Theera said output of rough rice from the main crop, which began being harvested last month and accounts for 70 percent of total production, may fall by 7 percent from last year.
Production from the main crop is estimated to decline by 1.6 million tonnes to 21.7 million, he said.
The flooding, which affected two-thirds of the country, may slash the country's economic growth by 0.3 percentage point this year to 7.9 percent, state planning agency the National Economic and Social Development Board said this week.
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