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Strong baht takes a toll on Thai tapioca export revenue

Farm products have a bright future in the Chinese market but the strong baht is leading to huge revenue losses, tapioca exporters said.

“The appreciation of the baht against the US dollar and the Chinese yuan has hit our revenue by up to Bt10 billion,” said Somboon Wattanavanichkul, president of the North Eastern Tapioca Trade Association.

Exporters want the baht in the range of Bt32 to the dollar in order to ensure price competitiveness of farm products in export markets, he said.

The baht currently trades at around Bt30 to the dollar, a five per cent appreciation since January this year. If the US Federal Reserve cuts its policy rate again, that would further strengthen the baht hence Thai authorities should look at the exchange rate market, he said. Thai exporters and their Chinese counterparts recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to trade 2.68 million tonnes of tapioca products -- chips and starch -- valued at $608 million (Bt18.464 billion). 

The MoU signing took place last week during the visit of a Thai delegation to China led by Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit in a bid to export more farm products to China.

Chinese traders will import this batch of tapioca chips and starch between October this year and October next year.

Boonchai Srichaiyongpanich, president of the Thai Tapioca Trade Association, said that export demand is higher than Thailand’s tapioca production cane meet, leading to the rising price of cassava roots. The fresh root now sells at between Bt2.10 to Bt2.40 per kilogram.

Currently, Thailand has the capacity to produce about 30 million tonnes of tapioca. He said that production capacity should increase to 40 million tonnes to meet high export demand. Thailand could increase cassava root yields from 3.6 tonnes per rai to 5 tonnes per rai, he suggested. Total land area for plantation of tapioca in Thailand is estimated at 8 million rai

From January to July, Thai traders exported 4.5 million tonnes of tapioca products value at $1.69 billion, down 11.63 per cent and 6.88 per cent respectively year on year. However, the Chinese export market remains promising as China is expected to import more cassava products to produce ethanol and feed meal, according to Thai exporters.



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