Thailand will export about 8.7 million tonnes of rice this year, ranking it the second largest exporter after India, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said Thursday.
The figure would put Thailand's exports "200,000 tonnes more than last projected and 2 million tonnes above the 2013 poor performance," the FAO's Rice Market Monitor said its quarterly report.
Indian exports would reach 9.5 million tonnes, and Vietnam's 7.2million tonnes, it said.
Thailand was world's largest rice exporter for three decades until the government's rice subsidy scheme hiked the price of its rice in 2012, making it uncompetitive on the global market.
India and Vietnam surpassed the kingdom's exports in 2012 and 2013.After losing an estimated 400 billion baht (12.5 billion dollars) to the program, and failing to pay farmers for their last crop in the late 2013 season, Thailand is now selling its rice at market prices.
Thailand's current stockpiles of rice are estimated at 18 million tonnes.
"Amid sustained efforts to curb its public inventories, Thailand is expected to capture much of the expansion in world demand, although most of the other rice exporters are also forecast to export more," the FAO report said.
The FAO has forecast a 5-per-cent increase in global demand for rice this year, especially from China, which is expected to import 3.3 million tonnes, and the Philippines and Indonesia are expected to import 1.2 million and 1.1 million tonnes, respectively.
Despite the higher demand, prices may not be on the rise because of an anticipated increase in supply this year.
"Global paddy production in 2014 could reach 751 million tonnes (or500.7 million tonnes of milled rice), 0.8 per cent more than currently estimated for 2013," the report said.
The combined rice stockpile of India, Pakistan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam were about 48.4 million tonnes at the end of 2013, a 3 per cent increase year-on-year.