Thai rice exports for the second half of the year may miss the target due to acute shortage of labour at the seaports as a direct result of the new foreign workers law, Chukiat Opaswong, honorary president of Rice Exporters Association, said on Wednesday (July 5).
“Rice exports which were doing well were, out of a sudden, hit with labour shortage, causing delay in delivery,” said Mr Chukiat.
Claiming that the number of stevedores at the seaports went missing between 30-40% due to the new foreign workers law, he said it normally took 7-10 days for rice to be loaded on a freighter, but now it took about a month by average due to few stevedores.
He said rice exporters were committed to ship 900,000 tonnes of rice abroad each month in order to meet the 10 million tonnes export target for this year. Due to the delay in delivery, he estimated that at most 700,000-800,000 tonnes would have been exported each month.
On top of that, Mr Chukiat noted that the strong baht and the volatility of the baht currency also impacted on rice exports for the second half of the year in a way that it would make Thai rice less competitive compared to rice from its competitors such as Vietnam.
For every one baht increase due to the strengthening of the currency, the export price of Thai rice will increase US$8-9 per tonne.
However, he was optimistic that export price of Thai rice would not drop below US$300 per tonne and was expected to hover between US$400-420 per tonne.
To ease the impacts caused by the law to business operators, the government invoked Section 44 to put on hold the enforcement of the law by six months to allow employers and migrant workers to apply for proper registration.