Despite delaying a plan to release rice under an auction, the Commerce Ministry is confident it will be able to clear huge stocks within two years, said Commerce Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya.
He said that the ministry planned to release up to 18 million tonnes of rice via auctions and negotiate with rice-import countries to receive huge amounts under government-to-government (G-to-G) contracts.
The general said that Thailand had between 17-18 million tonnes stockpiled, and it recently negotiated to sell 2 million tonnes to China.
Although the ministry wanted to clear the warehouses, Chatchai said, the government would carefully consider all proposed contracts through the G-to-G and bidding processes to ensure transparency and prevent contracts defaulting.
If any bidder were found have a suspect background, the ministry would not sell rice to that dealer.
Under the plan to clear rice stocks, the ministry previously announced it aimed to sell about 10 million tonnes under many methods this year, including selling about one million tonnes via general auction each month.
However, the ministry could sell only about 500,000 tonnes through an auction in January, and will on March 6 open the second auction for one million tonnes after missing the February auction date.
Duangporn Rodphaya, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said that the ministry had already sold more than two million tonnes of rice in the first two months of the year.
Of those, she said about 1.5 million tonnes was sold under G-to-G contracts.
She said that the government was confident of releasing rice amounts as planned because many traders were interested in joining the government's auctions due to the main harvest season ending.
Moreover, she said that in August the ministry would release low-grade rice grain to the market to supply the manufacturing sector.