Thai coconut product - Illustrative image (Source: freshplaza.com)

Bangkok (VNA) – The Commerce Ministry of Thailand is considering to reduce the period for coconut imports and introduce tighter control on importers to address the domestic coconut price slump.

According to Adul Chotinisakorn, director general of the ministry’s Foreign Trade Department, the ministry is working with the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to monitor the domestic coconut situation after local growers complained that the current price dip was caused by a flood of imported coconuts.

According to binding tariffs from the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Thailand imports 2,317 tonnes of coconut a year.

The quota is now taxed at 20 percent and the import tariff for non-quota trade is 54 percent. Eligible importers must be juristic persons who operate factories that use coconuts as raw materials.

There are no import quotas under the WTO from January to May and November to December.

But most importers use the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, which bans tariffs for coconuts processed into vegetable oil.

Last year, Thailand imported 416,124 tonnes of coconut worth 4.62 billion baht (139 million USD), of which 384,102 tonnes were from Indonesia, 15,613 tonnes from Vietnam, 2,864 tonnes from Myanmar and 13,524 tonnes from Malaysia.

Thailand is expected to produce 860,000 tonnes of coconuts this year, much lower than domestic demand, which is estimated at 1.1 million tonnes. Therefore, Thailand is relying on imports of 241,000 tonnes in 2018.

In the first five months of this year, Thailand imported nearly 170,000 tonnes of coconut worth 1.51 billion baht, down from over 178,000 tonnes worth 2.10 billion bath in the same period of last year.-VNA