Thailand is a leading exporter of rice, poultry meat and seafood, largely based on its ability to provide competitively priced products to regional markets. The government of Thailand operates many types of programs to boost agricultural exports, including export credit programs, direct export subsidies, enhancement of food industry export competitiveness, and other special programs such as rebates of duties paid by the poultry industry for animal feed. Little is known about Thailand's market promotion expenditures, although report TH6028 mentions a Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives survey of consumer tastes in rice in Japan, Europe and the United States at a cost of $1.6 million.
Thailand's direct export subsidies for rice exports were estimated at $6 million for 1995. This program was discontinued for 1996 due to high world rice prices.
The Ministry of Commerce, through its Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) and Department of Export Promotion (DEP), is the major actor in Thailand's export market promotion program. The DFT is involved primarily with rice and other bulk commodities, while the DEP is more involved with trade shows and missions. For some trade shows, participation by Thai exporters is encouraged through assistance with booth fees (up to 90 percent of the cost) and shipping of samples. Other agencies may also become involved in Ministry of Commerce activities. For example, the Agricultural Economics Department in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will conduct consumer taste research for rice in Japan, Europe and the United States at a cost of 40 million baht ($1.6 million). The funding will be provided by the Ministry of Commerce.
Apart from promotional activities, Thailand is also engaging other nations bilaterally and multilaterally in an effort to remove tariff and other restrictions to trade. For example, Thailand recently asked Japan to open its market to Thai rice and other agricultural products, especially mangoes. The two countries plan to meet this month in an effort at setting standards for Thai agricultural exports. Thailand is also working with Mexico to remove that country's ban on imports of Thai rice.