Thai rice exports fall to a decade low, hampered in-part by shipping container shortages

Thailand’s rice exports volume plunged to a 10-year low and will likely miss the government’s yearly target of 6 million tonnes, the exporters’ body said Monday, while calling for more innovative policies to boost competitiveness.

“Rice exporters continue to face a shortage of shipping containers, which causes logistical delays,” said Chookiat Opaswong, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association

There is also a labor shortage as the majority are migrant workers and are inhibited by Covid restrictions or unable to enter the country, Chookiat said.

The weakening of Thai baht has put pressure on the market as well resulting in a decline in rice prices, he said.

In the first seven months of 2021, the country’s rice exports totaled 2.6 million tonnes, worth USD 1.6 billion.

The seven month volume was lower by 22.4 per cent year-on-year, according to the group.

Chookiat estimated that Thailand will likely export some 5.8 million tonnes by the end of the year, which is less than the 6-billion-tonnes target set by the Ministry of Commerce.

The global rice market is experiencing backlogs and delays at major supply ports as a result of a worldwide container shortage, which has prompted shipping prices to spike.

Last year, Thailand fell in the rankings to just the third largest rice exporter in the world, giving way to India and Vietnam.

Chookiat urged the government to engage in research and development of various grain species, rather than implementing a subsidy plan.

“It has been shown that subsidizing agricultural products alone does not boost Thai rice prices or production at all,” he added.

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