June 16, 2004



Thai Corn Users Yet To Import 500,000 MT Duty-Free Quota
Thailand's corn users have not yet imported any corn from the government's 500,000 metric-ton duty-free import quota as the allocated time frame is too short, Surachai Suthitham, president of the Swine Raisers Association of Thailand, said Tuesday.
Since April, livestock industry participants have asked the government to temporarily remove the tax on corn imports to help them cope with a supply shortage and surging corn prices in the domestic market.
The Thai cabinet June 8 approved duty-free imports of corn totaling 500,000 metric tons, but stipulated that the grain must be received by July 15.
The usual duty on corn imports is 20%.
"We can't import as each shipment needs at least 45 days (to dock at Thai ports)," Surachai said.
If users do import, the corn will come from sources such as Argentina and Brazil, Surachai said.
Thailand is usually self-sufficient for corn. But robust exports so far this year, triggered by high global corn prices, prompted a domestic shortage.
Surachai said his association has asked the Commerce Ministry at a meeting Tuesday to approve corn imports for not just the set-period, but also for whenever a severe shortage arises.
"We want to reserve the right to import the corn (after the approved period)...we will ensure that imports will be made during periods that won't affect domestic corn (prices)," he said.
The government has not yet responded to this request, Surachai said.
Domestic corn production from the main crop will enter the market in July, Surachai said.
Thailand is forecast to produce around 4.23 million tons of corn in the 2004-05 crop year, around 86% of which will come from the main crop, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
The ministry estimated Thailand's corn production in the 2003-04 crop year at 4.12 million tons.