Expenditures and Activities of
Cairns Group Countries
Thailand engages in a variety of export promotion activities for traditional agricultural products such as rice, tapioca, sugarcane, and shrimp, and for many processed food products such as canned fruits and frozen poultry. Most promotions are aimed at Thailandís ASEAN neighbors. Trade missions and trade shows, encompassing a variety of products are also used.
Thailand is a leading exporter of rice, poultry meat, and seafood based largely on its ability to provide competitively priced agricultural products to Asian markets. Thailand has advocated liberalizing agriculture trade. Increasing competition is forcing Thailand to develop programs and policies to both facilitate agricultural exports and develop new markets for its products.
The Ministry of Commerce, through its Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) and Department of Export Promotion (DEP), has a major role in Thailand's export promotion program. The DFT is involved primarily with rice, sugar, coffee, tapioca, and textiles. The DEP is more involved with trade shows and missions and promoting high-value products, such as machinery, appliances, textiles, furniture, and processed food products like canned fruits, spices, sauces and frozen poultry. Thai exporters are provided assistance with booth fees and shipping samples for some trade shows.
The DEPís new export promotion theme, Made in Thailand, focuses on food, jewelry, and garments, targeting the ASEAN region. The DEP matches Thai manufacturers with overseas buyers and provides quick and cost-effective access to Thai products. This is done through a number of informational and organizational facilities, including trade seminars and through international trade fairs. Thailand's current economic crisis, however, has forced the government to cut annual support to about $5.5 million. DEP officials now want new campaigns to be more directed and effective, with a focus on creating a Thai brand image for the export market. Thailand also participates in major international trade shows, like SIAL and ANUGA. Thailand plans to have its own trade show, to showcase its food products to regional consumers.
The Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) coordinates with public and private organizations supporting the national Food Import-Export Plan. Exporters can now receive export certification from a single agency instead of from several, as was previously the case. The Thai FDA can also certify that food products for export, for example poultry meat, meet international ISO standards.
The Thai Government cooperates with other Southeast Asian countries in promoting 15 agricultural products, under the ASEAN Cooperation in Agriculture and Forest Products Promotion Plan. The plan focuses on expanding agriculture and forest products through product diversification, end-use marketing, value-added processing, and continuous upgrading of product quality. The plan will also build economic ties between ASEAN member countries, and help maintain a sustainable supply of raw materials into the future. The products covered under this plan include poultry meat, canned tuna, shrimp, pineapple, tapioca, natural rubber from Thailand; palm oil, cocoa from Malaysia; tea, pepper, forest products from Indonesia; carrageenan and other seaweeds, coconut oil from Philippines; peas and beans from Myanmar and coffee from Vietnam.
Thailand's export or packing credit program promotes agricultural and industrial exports. Under this program, a loan is granted to accredited exporters by commercial banks when the exporter places a promissory note with the bank.
In general, the amount of the loan is equivalent to the value of the promissory note, based on the sales and export documents. The interest rate on the loan must not exceed 10 percent per annum. The Export-Import Bank of Thailand refinances 50 percent of the promissory note's value to the commercial bank at an interest rate of 5 percent. The credit terms cannot exceed 180 days. In 1998, approximately $520 million was made available under the packing credits program for rice exporters.
The Thai government operates a number of crop support programs for rice, rubber, sugarcane, pineapple, and tapioca. In 1999, the government plans to allocate $1.06 billion, to manage rice policy and prevent further price drops.