By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said yesterday that 51 rice traders had shown interest in the third rice auction of the year, driven by high demand arising from lower output due to the drought.
The auction takes place at the Commerce Ministry in Nonthaburi.
“Rice prices have increased gradually. This bidding should generate a better price than at the two previous auctions this year, although it may not be as high as the market price as this rice stock from the government’s warehouses has deteriorated in quality as it has been stockpiled for a while,” she said.
Excluding the 1.2 million tonnes set to be auctioned off, about 11.4 million tonnes of rice remains in the government’s stocks – some 7 million tonnes of it for consumption, and the rest for industrial supply.
Duangporn said the government would hold further bidding rounds for releasing rice from the stockpile soon, while taking into account the prevailing market situation in order to prevent prices falling before the start of the new harvest season.
Meanwhile, rice exports are on the rise, thanks to high overseas demand, she added.
According to a Foreign Trade Department report, rice exports have risen 18 per cent in volume so far this year to 3.91 million tonnes, while export value has increased 11.85 per cent to Bt60.99 billion.
Asked about the losses incurred from the four defaulted government-to-government contracts for the sale of 6.2 million tonnes of rice from the previous administration, Duangporn said her department was following up the case and estimated calling for recovery of an overall loss of Bt20 billion from politicians and ousted government officials.
The department is awaiting the Office of the Council of State’s consideration in regard to signing authorisation for the Commerce Ministry or other agencies to call for recovery of the losses, she added.
Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary chairman of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said many rice traders – including exporters, millers and domestic traders – were eager to join the upcoming bidding as they hoped to find rice at a cheaper price during a period of low supply and high prices in the market.
The current price of rice is the highest for two years, due to lower production resulting from controlled plantation during the dry season, he said.
The export price of Hom Mali or jasmine rice is now quoted at US$795 (Bt28,220) per tonne, while sticky rice fetches $900 per tonne and white rice is quoted at $439 per tonne.
With higher export prices, domestic prices have also increased, Chookiat said.
The price of paddy white rice has risen from Bt7,800-Bt8,000 to Bt9,000-Bt9,300 per tonne, while paddy jasmine rice is now quoted at Bt12,000-Bt13,000 a tonne.
The government should soon open a couple more rounds of rice bidding in order to release rice from the stockpiles before the incoming new crop, he added.