Thailand: Cabinet okays zero-tariff maize deal

The cabinet on Tuesday approved a Commerce Ministry proposal to import up to 600,000 tonnes of maize with zero tariffs from May to July, aiming to ease a shortage of animal feed ingredients following the disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said the imports will be handled by the Public Warehouse Organization (PWO) and general importers.

Previous requirements allowed only the PWO to handle imports of up to 54,700 tonnes of maize a year under the World Trade Organization’s quota system, with 20% import tariffs.

Feed mills have complained for months of a shortage of grains used in animal feed mixes, such as wheat and corn, urging the government to ease import controls designed to protect local farmers.

According to Mr Thanakorn, the cabinet also approved a proposal to temporarily suspend the measure to cap wheat imports, which require importers to purchase domestic maize at a ratio of 1:3 for three months between May and July 31.

The government imposed a cap on wheat imports in 2016 with the aim of shoring up domestic maize and cassava prices.

In a separate development, Rachada Dhnadirek, a deputy government spokeswoman, said the cabinet also approved 2.14 billion baht to support the rice and maize insurance scheme, 1.92 billion of which will be slated for the rice insurance scheme and 224 million for the maize insurance scheme in 2022.

The rice insurance scheme aims to cover 28.5 million rai of farmland nationwide, of which 28 million rai belong to farmers who are customers of the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives. Some 500,000 rai are owned by general farmers. The maize insurance scheme targets 2.06 million rai.