The Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA) has estimated that Thailand will export 6.5 million tonnes of rice this year, a drop of 35 percent from last year.

TREA President Korbsuk Iamsuree said the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecast that international rice trade in 2013 will stand at 37.37 million tonnes, down 4.35 percent compared to the previous year. She said the USDA still ranked Thailand as the top rice exporter, projecting this year’s export at 8 million tonnes.

The association voiced their belief that Thai rice export can meet the USDA’s expectation if this year’s government-to-government rice deals, registered at 1.5 million tonnes, are included in the total number.

Thailand remains a major rice exporter to Nigeria , Iraq , Ivory Coast and South Africa while Hong Kong is the biggest export market for Thai jasmine rice.

Korbsuk warned that Thailand could face a further drop in exports this year due to the strengthening bath currency and the high price of Thai rice compared to its rivals.-VNA