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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           28   July  2011

New price scheme threatens Thai rice exports

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Thai rice exporters are looking for alternative supplies from Vietnam and Cambodia in case the new Pheu Thai government makes the price too expensive for export, which could halve volume to only 5 million tonnes next year for a revenue loss of 60-70 billion baht (US$2.35 billion).

The Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA) has been crying foul for a while now regarding Pheu Thai's announced policy to allow farmers to mortgage their entire harvest at 15,000 baht a tonne for white rice and 20,000 baht for fragrant or Hom Mali rice.

Even though the party has said purchases would not start until November, rice prices have been rising each week since before the July 3 general election.

Thai rice prices, the benchmark for Asia, rose by 0.7 percent yesterday from a week earlier on optimism the new government will buy the grain at above-market rates, said the TREA after its weekly price-setting meeting.

It said the price of 100 percent grade-B white rice reached $567 a ton, while 25 percent broken rice rose to $506 a ton from $502 last week.

Vice-president Charoen Laothamatas said that if the mortgage program returns, the free-on-board price of Hom Mali would reach US$1,400 a ton, making it difficult to market.

"If Thai exporters cannot buy such expensive rice for export, they may opt for much cheaper rice from Vietnam, Cambodia or Burma, as they must maintain their market bases and customers. With the Asean Free Trade Agreement, such an alternative would be possible," he said.

Some rice exporters and millers have already established trading firms or representative offices in Cambodia and Vietnam to purchase rice for export to foreign customers.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, the TREA honorary president, predicts exports could be cut in half if the government has no measures to assist exporters.

TREA president Korbsook Iamsuri said that while exports should be able to meet this year's target of 10 million ton, three areas of concern remain.

They are the government's rice mortgage policy jacking up prices; the baht appreciating further, also making Thai rice more expensive; and India's plan to export at least 1 million tons of rice from next month, as its price beats Thailand's by $100 a ton.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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