Thailand: Unlimited Imports of Duty-Free Soybeans Till 2025


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Post forecasts Thailand’s MY2022/23 and MY2023/24 full-fat Soybean demand to rebound to the average annual demand of 700,000 – 800,000 metric tons due to continued growing poultry production and anticipated increase in swine farming after the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak over the past years. Soybeans can be processed through cooking and roasting to make full-fat Soybeans. Full-fat Soybeans are usually used in feed rations when the costs of full-fat Soybeans are less expensive than the combined costs of Soybean meal and oil ingredients. The reduced feed-quality Soybean for full-fat Soybean production more than offset the increased Soybean import demand from the crushing and food processing industry.

The Thailand Feed Mill Association expects the swine feed demand to increase by 15 percent in 2023 as swine farmers become more optimistic and expand their production after the new ASF outbreak reduced the pig population substantially. The Department of Livestock Development reported to the World Organization for Animal Health on January 2023 that only seven recent ASF outbreaks were detected between November 16 and December 25, 2022.

MY2021/22 full-fat Soybean demand declined significantly due to reduced swine production caused by the ASF outbreak. The need for full-fat Soybeans in poultry feed, which grew by 3 percent in MY2021/22, also declined significantly as farmers substituted Soybean meal with full-fat Soybean. Full-fat Soybean prices in MY2021/22 were 26 percent higher than Soybean meals due to high freight costs and tight container supplies, especially for full-fat Soybean shipments from the United States. Average import prices of full-fat Soybean in MY2021/22 increased 23 percent from the previous year, compared to those of Soybean meals which grew at a lesser degree by around 11 percent.

Thailand’s Soybean Trade and Policy

Thailand relies heavily on imported Soybeans to meet domestic demand for vegetable oil, food, and animal feed, as domestic Soybean production is marginal. According to Thailand’s commitment with World Trade Organization (WTO), Soybean imports are subject to a Tariff-Rate Quota of 10,922 metric tons with a 20 percent in-quota tariff and an 80 percent out-of-quota tariff. However, due to insufficient domestic production, the government always allows unlimited duty-free imports of Soybeans every year from WTO member countries. The Government approved unlimited imports of duty-free Soybeans between 2023 and 2025 on November 29, 2022. However, the Government allowed only 16 food processing companies and importers who are members of eight trade associations to import.

Post forecasts MY2022/23 and MY2023/24 Soybean imports to rebound from MY2021/22 to 3.9 and 4.0 million metric tons, respectively, mainly due to strong demand for Soybeans in poultry and swine feed following continued growing broiler production and expected recovery in swine production. Also, demand for Soybean in the food industry will likely continue to grow in line with the economic recovery, driven by the increase in foreign tourists to the levels before the pandemic.

According to AgFlow data, Brazil exported 1.0 million tons of Soybean to Thailand in Jan-May 2023, followed by the United States (73,485 tons). Soybean imports in the first five months of MY2022/23 totaled 1.1 million metric tons, down 9 percent from the same period in the previous year. Soybean imports from Brazil, which accounted for 86 percent of total Soybean imports, increased 23 percent from last year.

Meanwhile, imports of U.S. Soybean, which accounted for 11 percent of total Soybean imports, declined 72 percent from the same period the previous year due mainly to the reduced imports of full-fat Soybeans that more than offset the increased U.S. food-quality Soybean import demand, following the tight supplies of container shipments.

Other sources: USDA

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