The Foreign Trade Department has said, Thailand is likely to export additional rice to Iran shortly after that country elevates an import prohibition imposed three years ago subsequently a Thai exporter defaulted on a rice-shipment contract.

To safeguard the quality of Thai rice and that it will be shipped as agreed, Iran will direct a team of officials, mostly from the Ministry of Health and Medical Education and delegates from private enterprise, to study this country’s production procedures from ground to shipment next month.

Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the department, said it was good to see that Iran looked equipped to recommence rice imports from Thailand.

She said “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.”

In total, Iran is likely to import about 1.3 million tonnes of rice this year from global sources.

Once 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 refer a assignment to survey Thai rice production from upstream to downstream in November.

Duangporn said Thailand had high competence to ship rice to Iran. Usually, Iran only orders long-grain rice, such as 100-per-cent white rice. It might make certain distinctive requirements for the shipment process, however it will also standardize to a better 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.