Rice exports to Iran may resume soon

Economy October 13, 2014 01:00


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THAILAND is expected to export more rice to Iran soon after that country lifts an import ban imposed three years ago after a Thai exporter defaulted on a rice-shipment contract, the Foreign Trade Department has said.

To ensure the quality of Thai rice and that it will be shipped as agreed, Iran will send a team of officials, mainly from the Ministry of Health and Medical Education and representatives from private enterprise, to inspect this country’s production procedures from field to shipment next month.
Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the department, said it was good to see that Iran seemed ready to resume rice imports from Thailand.
“The Thai government has tried hard to persuade the Iranian government to import rice from Thailand as in the past. Iran is a major rice-importing country – more than a million tonnes a year,” she said.
In total, Iran is expected to import about 1.3 million tonnes of rice this year from global sources. 
After a meeting with Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikulya early this month, the Iranian Chamber of Commerce said it had more confidence in the Thai rice sector. As a result, Iran will send a mission to survey Thai rice production from upstream to downstream in November.
Duangporn said Thailand had high capability to ship rice to Iran. Normally, Iran only orders long-grain rice, such as 100-per-cent white rice. It may make some special requirements for the shipment procedure, but it will also agree to a higher price.
For the coming order, the Iranian government may allow private importers to handle about 80 per cent of each shipment, while the Thai government handles the rest.
Duangporn said Iran was expected to order at least 100,000-200,000 tonnes for the first shipment from Thailand early next year.
According to the Commerce Ministry, Iran imported US$150-million worth of rice from Thailand in 2011. However, when the export company defaulted, Tehran lost confidence in Thailand’s reliability. The value of Thailand’s rice shipments to Iran declined to only $2.1 million in 2012.
With more export opportunities in major markets, Duangporn said Thailand should be able to export more rice in 2015 than this year’s volume of about 10 million tonnes.
The Thai Rice Exporters Association said that as of September 23, rice exports had grown significantly so far this year, by 70.5 per cent to 7.71 million tonnes. Thailand will this year reclaim its former status as the world’s largest rice exporter. India is the second-largest so far this year with shipment volume of 6.84 million tonnes during the same period, followed by Vietnam at 5.32 million, Pakistan at 2.49 million, and the United States at 2.04 million tonnes.