Aug. 05--The military regime is poised to call its first general auction for state rice stocks this week and vows to deliver 1 million tonnes of rice to China by next July to fulfil a previous deal.
Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, yesterday said her agency would call a bid to sell 160,000 tonnes for the first time since the junta took over the country's administration on May 22.
The auction will cover 5% white rice, 10% white rice, Hom Mali rice and broken grains.
All grains put to auction will have passed a quality inspection.
"We thus believe the bid will receive a positive response from potential buyers," said Ms Duangporn, who recently returned from China after holding talks with China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation, a state conglomerate that supervises rice import quotas in the country.
"More importantly, overall rice prices are picking up and expected to rise further thanks to higher demand in light of lower supply caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon."
She said Thailand was committed to completing the rice deal for 1 million tonnes agreed by the previous government and China.
Thailand has delivered 100,000 tonnes, with 900,000 tonnes more to follow.
Ms Duangporn did not say whether the Thai authorities achieved a deal to sell an additional 1 million tonnes of rice to China as suggested last week by commerce permanent secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara.
According to Ms Chutima, the Commerce Ministry has set a target of shipping 3-4 million tonnes of state rice stocks and forecasts overall rice exports in excess of 8 million tonnes this year.
Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said the new rice auction should be active, as the amount was not big and quality was assured.
"Thai rice right now is fetching an average of US$450 a tonne compared with as low as $380-390 a tonne during the previous government," he said.
"Demand, meanwhile, is also recovering in both the domestic and international markets, so there is no need for the authorities to accelerate rice sales."
Mr Charoen said Thailand could expect to sell more than 9 million tonnes of rice this year, especially to China, whose shipments including newly harvested Hom Mali rice are likely to hit 1 million tonnes.
Thailand has thus far shipped about 400,000 tonnes of rice to China, a surge from the 200,000 tonnes Thailand normally exports to the country in a year, he added.
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