By THE NATION
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) has urged Thailand, the world's 11th biggest global food manufacturer and one of the countries to successfully contain the Covid-19 outbreak, to increase export of food to prevent global shortage, Poj Aramwatthananont, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said.
He said that the recent Opec meeting, attended by 21 member countries, had estimated that the Covid-19 outbreak will cause disruption to the global food supply chain and affect global food security until 2022.
“This is a good opportunity for Thai exporters to expand the markets, which will require strict compliance to international food safety standards,” Poj said.
Poj further added that the private sector is preparing to sign MoUs with ministries of Commerce, Public Health, Agriculture and Cooperative, and Interior to obtain related certifications for Thai products to be exported overseas, to increase the confidence of foreign customers.
“These MoUs are also a start of aggressive measures to prevent the contamination of food products with the Covid-19 virus and other germs that could unexpectedly disrupt our food industry,” he added.
“To help increase the export of food products, the government should provide incentives such as reducing import tax on raw materials that could not be manufactured domestically and expand import quota so that factories can manufacture to their fullest capacity,” said Poj.
“Currently many food processing factories are still having unused capacity, especially frozen food factories that are operating at 30 per cent because they don’t have enough raw materials. An increase in the export quota of raw materials that do not affect domestic farmers should help increase food export volume and stimulate future investments.”
Meanwhile, Anong Phaijitpraphaphorn, director of the National Food Institute, said the institute expects food exports in the second half of 2020 to expand by 3.6 per cent year on year to around Bt519.4 billion, as the demand for food will start climbing once economic activities return to normal globally.
“Total food export for this year is expected to hit Bt1.025 trillion, 0.8 per cent higher than last year. This is provided the baht does not get too strong or fluctuate too much,” she added.