Thailand’s deputy director-general Mr. Keerati Rushchano of Commerce Ministry’s Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) said, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have been hit by severe droughts and flooding in recent years, substantially damaging crop yields and forcing them to approach Thailand. Both these countries are in talks with Thailand for an urgent purchase of 400,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of rice to replenish their falling stocks. “The countries need to refill their stocks immediately so they are turning to Thailand, although it’s been a long time since they’ve bought significant quantities of Thai rice,” said Mr Keerati. “Tentatively, each country is seeking 200,000 tonnes of rice — mostly parboiled grade and common grade white rice,” he revealed.
According to the Thai Rice Exporters Association, Sri Lanka imported 280 MT of Thai rice in 2016, while Bangladesh bought 151 MT. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh normally grow rice for domestic consumption, primarily supplementing their stocks from neighbouring Pakistan and India when needed. The benchmark common grade 5% white rice was quoted at US$410 (13,870 baht) a tonne, while parboiled 100% grade white rice was $439 a tonne, said the association.
Thailand has opened state auctions for selling of rice to in recent years leaving the stocks at low levels. There are only a few Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) of rice left, down from a record high of more than 18 MMT. With diminished state stocks, the rice deals were expected to be secured through government-to-government (G-to-G) meaning private firms delivering the rice, Mr Keerati said.
Traders in Bangkok revealed that Bangladesh is also approaching private Thai exporters to secure the best price of rice. “Bangladesh asked for our rice price quotes, saying it would compare the prices offered by the government and private firms and choose the cheaper one,” said a Bangkok-based rice trader who requested anonymity.