Manila to buy more Thai rice

The military regime has approved a three-year plan under a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) to sell 1 million tonnes of rice annually to the Philippines from 2014-16.

Yongyuth Maiyalap, spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order, said the Commerce Ministry would sign the MoU with Manila after a previous MoU expired.

The MoU will allow Thailand to be eligible to participate in bidding to sell rice to the Philippines, which also has similar arrangements with Vietnam and Cambodia under government-to-government (G2G) deals.

The government bid to sell rice to the Philippines three times in 2012 and 2013 but managed to sell only 120,000 tonnes in 2012 and 767,000 tonnes last year.

Mr Yongyuth said the Philippines was expected to import 1.45 million tonnes of rice this year.

In the first seven months, Thailand sold 126,866 tonnes to the Philippines, a surge of 1,328% from 8,884 tonnes sold in the same period last year.

Charoen Laothamatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA), said the Philippines had shifted to buying rice from Vietnam these last couple of years.

The Thai government during that period had set rice mortgage prices higher than market prices, making Thai grains less competitive, he said.

Mr Charoen said the Indonesian government had now agreed to buy 175,000 tonnes of white rice, mainly from new harvests, under a G2G contract.

The private sector will handle the delivery after an official pact is signed this week, he said. 

Mr Charoen said the deal was a good sign for Thai rice shipments since Indonesia had halted rice purchases from Thailand in 2012, citing substandard quality of the grains delivered. 

Indonesia's Bureau of Logistics in July said it might import 250,000 to 500,000 tonnes of rice, depending on domestic production and prices.

In the first seven months, Thailand shipped 5.62 million tonnes of rice overall, up by 55% year-on-year, fetching 90.9 billion baht, up by 20.6%.

Benin ranked as the top importer of Thai rice at 689,329 tonnes, up by 55.7% year-on-year, followed by China's 338,170 tonnes (up 227%), Ivory Coast's 325,558 tonnes (up 68.2%), Nigeria's 321,955 tonnes (up 467%) and Cameroon's 281,905 tonnes (up 190%).

The TREA said July's shipments marked the highest of the year at 940,691 tonnes, up by nearly 40% year-on-year. August exports are expected at 900,000 tonnes.

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