Tue, July 05, 2022

business

Thai rice exports still untouched by Russia-Ukraine war, says association


The Thai Rice Exporters Association said recently that the Russia-Ukraine war has not shaken rice exports yet, though rising oil prices may affect the situation in the long run.

Chookiat Ophaswongse, the association’s honorary president, said Thailand exported some 6,000 tonnes of rice to Russia and about 2,000 tonnes to Ukraine last year.

However, he said, the situation may change because wheat exports from Russia have been banned, which may result in pushing up the price of rice and other grains. This may impact orders from potential buyers.

Chookiat added that the sea route from Thailand to key markets in Europe, especially France, and Africa have not been affected because it does not pass Russia or Ukraine. However, the cost of shipping may spike if the price of oil rises above US$100 per barrel. Then, he said, countries may choose to purchase rice from countries that are closer and cheaper than Thailand.

Yet, he said, Thailand may still achieve the goal of exporting 7 million tonnes of rice this year thanks to the Middle East, where each country exports at least 1 million tonnes of rice every year.

Though the Middle East market had slowed down, it began picking up again from the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, Pitak Udomwichaiwat, director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade (DFT), said the department is adjusting its publicity strategy for rice in line with the current situation.

It is planning to launch online campaigns to raise awareness about Thai rice and boost its popularity.

DFT plans to focus on strengthening trade ties with China, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.

Apart from holding virtual meetings with potential buyers, the department will also look for ways to deal with Vietnam – Thailand’s No 1 competitor in rice exports.

He added that Thailand’s export sector should do well this year because the container shortage problem is easing, though the cost of shipping is still high.

Plus, he said, the price of Thai rice is still competitive thanks to the exchange rate and will remain so if the currency does not get stronger.

DFT is planning to join international exhibitions and is eyeing the Saudi Arabian market. It has asked Thai diplomats to survey the demand and develop links with key rice exporters in Saudi Arabia.

Pitak said once the Covid-19 situation eases, DFT will take Thai exporters to negotiate deals.

As for government-to-government deals, DFT is waiting to sign a memorandum of understanding with Iraq even though the private sector is already exporting rice to the country.

Published : March 07, 2022

By : THE NATION