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Thai rice exports expected to increase 15 per cent in 2013

India and Vietnam sold more than Thailand in 2012. (Image source: cookbookman17/Flickr)

Rice shipments from Thailand are expected to increase 15 per cent in 2013, making the country the top rice exporter in the world

Government sales have been accelerating from its record stockpiles and the country has been renting more warehouses to store extra rice grains from the last harvest.

The Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA) has predicted that exports may climb to eight million metric tonnes in 2013, assuming sales of 1.5 million tonnes from state inventories, from 6.95 million tonnes in 2012.

Last year, India and Vietnam sold more than Thailand as shipments tumbled 35 per cent to the lowest level since 2000, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) figures.

Rice had dropped 16 per cent from a three-year high in September 2011 as inventories tracked by the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) swelled to a record, curbing food costs. Thailand started buying rough (paddy) rice from farmers above market rates in October 2011, to lift domestic prices and rural incomes.

TREA president Korbsook Iamsuri said, “The eight million tonne target will be achieved as the government has to speed up government-to-government sales.”

Thai commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said the government has bought nine million tonnes of unmilled rice and expects to purchase as much as 11 million tonnes during the current harvest. The country will maintain an export target of 8.5 million tonnes for this year, according to the department of foreign trade.

International Rice Research Institute senior economist Samarendu Mohanty said, “Thailand will be more aggressive in terms of exporting the rice.”

World output of milled rice in 2012-2013 has been forecast at an all-time high of 465.6 million tonnes, according to the USDA. The FAO has forecast global reserves climbing to 169.8 million tonnes by the end of 2012-2013.