Auctions of old rice may be opened to foreign bidders

By | February 26, 2016

The Commerce Ministry is considering allowing international bidding at auctions for the old rice still in the government stockpile from the previous government’s rice-pledging scheme
Permanent secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara said on Friday the ministry wanted to open the auctions to foreign bidders, not only local buyers, this year as it planned to sell at least 5 million tonnes of the old grain.
Officials were looking into the details and would have to consider whether the ministry had enough staff because international bids would require many procedures and involve a large volume of documents that would all have to be examined, she said.
There were still about 11 million tonnes of rice in the old stockpile. Ms Chutima said 1-2 monthly auctions would be organised between March and July, when farmers would not have new grain to offer on the market.
The next round of bidding would be in late March, for 400,000-500,000 tonnes of rice, she said.
The National Rice Policy Committee approved the sale of 362,864 tonnes of old rice to winning bidders from the last auction on Feb 16 and 17, when 570,000 tonnes were on offer.
Of the approved amount, 141,489 tonnes were sold to general buyers and 221,375 tonnes to industrialists, mainly the producers of animal feed and noodles. The best price was at 6-7 baht per kilogramme, Ms Chutima said.
Officials of the Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) would discuss prices and terms with Chinese officials next month for the delivery of 100,000 tonnes of rice to China which had signed a memorandum to buy a total of 2 million tonnes of Thai rice.
Many other countries were also interested in buying Thai rice to cope with possible shortages – including Indonesia, Iran and the Philippines, Ms Chutima said.
DFT director-general Duangporn Rodphaya said drought was worldwide and global rice traders were aware that Thailand had a huge stock of rice and Vietnam would sell out its current stockpile in March.
She predicted that Thailand would export 9.5 million tonnes of rice in 2016, because demand was likely to rise in the second half of this year.