FILE PHOTO: A rice mill worker holds up rice fallen onto the ground in Udon Thani, Thailand, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
By Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s rice exports for January were at 805,519 tonnes, up 75.2% from a year earlier, helped by year-end orders, higher demand from the Middle East and a weak baht currency, the Commerce Ministry said on Monday.
The value of rice exports rose 78.76% to 14.28 billion baht ($406.72 million) in January year-on-year, Ronnarong Phoolpipat, head of the ministry’s foreign trade department, told a news conference.
“Rice exports in January increased by a shocking rate,” he said, adding the ministry’s trade promotion efforts also helped.
He singled out “an opportunity to export further” to the Middle East given some Arab nations’ high purchasing power and low agricultural output.
The region was the only growing market for Thai rice in the last year, taking 2.02 million tonnes of rice, or 26% of total rice shipments, Ronnarong said.
In 2021, Thailand shipped out only 630,000 tonnes of rice to the region, he added.
However, the ministry is sticking to its overall rice export target of 7.5 million tonnes this year as it wants to monitor the baht before deciding whether to revise the target, he said.
Earlier this year, the ministry lowered its export target for 2023 from 8 million tonnes to 7.5 million tonnes as the baht, which dropped as much as 13% against the dollar in October last year, appreciated.
The baht has weakened again, by 1.5% against the dollar so far this year, becoming Asia’s third-worst performing currency.
Thailand is the world’s third-largest rice exporter after India and Vietnam.
Thailand exported 7.69 million tonnes of rice in 2022, up 22.1% from a year earlier, beating a target of 7.5 million tonnes, with top markets being Iraq, South Africa, China and the United States.
($1 = 35.1100 baht)