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Malaysia may import more Thai rice this year now that it is cheaper


A drop in prices and a bigger, better harvest is expected to boost the export of Thai rice to Malaysia, the Department of Foreign Trade said this week.

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Keerati Rushchano, the department’s director-general, said his agency along with the Thai Rice Exporters Association and Office of Overseas Trade Promotion in Kuala Lumpur held a virtual meeting with Malaysia’s rice import regulator, Bernas (Padiberas Nasional Berhad), on Monday.

The agencies told Bernas that Thailand’s rice harvest this year is expected to be bountiful thanks to good rainfall as well as an increase in the workforce because more people have returned to their villages due to the outbreak.

This boost in production, coupled with an expected depreciation in the baht, should bring the price of Thai rice close to that of competitors like India and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Bernas conceded that Malaysia does not produce enough rice for local consumption and normally must import about 900,000 tonnes every year. This year, Malaysia is expected to import 1.08 million tonnes of rice due to a poor local harvest.

Thai rice has always been popular with Malaysian consumers, but the price increase pushed Bernas to opt for cheaper but inferior versions from India, Pakistan and Vietnam.

Bernas, however, believes that in the second half of this year, demand for Thai rice will rise because it has become more affordable. Apart from it becoming cheaper, Malaysian consumers also prefer Thai rice over other strains as indicated by the increase in orders over the past couple of months.

From January 1 to July 29, Thailand has exported 2.74 million tonnes of rice worth US$1.67 billion, though the volume and value of the shipment have dropped 17.07 per cent and 24.84 per cent respectively compared to last year.

Published : August 11, 2021

By : The Nation