Bangkok. Thailand expects to export more than 11 million tons of rice in 2017, the country's rice export association said on Wednesday (27/12), a record high for the world's second-biggest exporter of the grain.
"This year it should be 11.2 million tons because right now the commerce ministry's figures for January to November are at 10.4 million tons already and for December it will definitely ... be around 700,000 to 800,000 tons," Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Thai rice prices were also in line with that of competitors, he said, which helped exports in 2017.
"This year will be a record high. We have never reached 11 million tons," he said. "But still, we exported less than India."
Thailand also sold "old rice" from government warehouses at competitive prices this year, Chookiat said.
The military government has managed to sell most of the about 18 million tons of rice accumulated during a rice scheme introduced by the previous, civilian government that it ousted in a 2014 coup.
The scheme, which was introduced in 2011, bought rice at above-market prices from farmers and was popular in the rural northeast.
But the scheme's public losses fueled street protests in 2013/14 against then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who was eventually removed from power weeks before the 2014 coup.
The scheme also saw Thailand lose its crown as the world's top rice exporter to other countries, notably Vietnam and India.