Another rice auction in two weeks

The Commerce Ministry will stage another rice auction in the next fortnight to unload 200,000-300,000 tonnes of rice from the stockpile.

Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisal said today that the rice to be auctioned to domestic buyers include white rice and hom mali  fragrant rice.

In order to encourage more potential buyers to join the auction, he said that the Foreign Trade Department was considering whether bidding procedure would be adjusted such as whether it would be mandatory that bidders would have to bid for the whole lot of rice in a warehouse.

The minister said that unloading of rice from the stockpile through direct sale to overseas buyers and through government-to-government deals was progressing satisfactorily.

Of late, China agreed to buy 1.2 million tonnes of rice part of which was scheduled to be delivered at the end of this year.  Delivery of the 250,000 tonnes of rice bought by Iran will begin next month and another rice deal is expected from Iraq.

So far, the Commerce Ministry will pay 150 billion baht from rice sale to the Finance Ministry, major creditor of the rice pledging scheme, and by the end of this year the repayment is expected to increase to 200 billion baht.

Mr Niwatthamrong is optimistic that Thailand will be able to export at least 7-8 million tonnes of rice by yearend.