BANGKOK (NNT) – Due to the impact of the initial outbreak of COVID-19, Thailand exported only 5.72 million tons of rice, worth 3.7 billion dollars US in 2020, falling well short of the 6.5-million-ton target. Last year’s rice exports hit a new low, as prices of Thai rice were higher than those of competitors, while the COVID-19 situation weakened the purchasing power of consumers around the world. However, the Department of Foreign Trade insists that Thailand remains a major rice exporter. The country is focusing more on value than volume, to maintain domestic price stability.

The Director-General of the Department of Foreign Trade, Kirati Ratchano, said today that Thailand is the world’s third largest rice exporter, behind India and Vietnam. Last year, Vietnam exported 5.9 million tons and India exported 13.6 million tons. Key factors included the baht’s appreciation and high domestic prices. The price of Thai five percent white rice stood at 515 dollars a ton, while India’s white rice was only 385 dollars a ton. Moreover, there were not enough containers, an issue that is still having an impact this year.

The Department of Foreign Trade and the Thai Rice Exporters Association have set a target for rice exports of 6 million tonnes in 2021, while focusing more on online channels and increasing the confidence of key traders, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iraq and Bangladesh via videoconferencing. Thailand will continue promoting its Jasmine rice on social media, after the Thai favorite was named the world’s best-tasting rice in 2020; it will also continue to develop new rice varieties to meet the growing demand of the international market.

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