Thailand ships chicken products to Saudi Arabia for the first time since 2004
Thailand shipped the first consignment of chicken products to Saudi Arabia in 18 years on Monday, as diplomatic relations between the two countries are gradually restored following three decades of suspension of formal ties.
The shipment, by Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc, took place two weeks after Saudi Arabia lifted an 18-year ban on Thai chicken and egg imports.
A launch ceremony was held at CP Foods’ Min Buri Chicken Processing Plant 2. The event was attended by Thai Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit and other senior commerce officials, Secretary-General of Central Islamic Council of Thailand Pol. Maj-Gen Surin Palarae, and executives of CP Foods.
Jurin said that Thailand’s chicken industry has taken a momentous step in the Middle East, as he thanked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for his visit to Saudi Arabia in January and efforts by officials of the Foreign Affairs Ministry to restore relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia.
He said that the chicken products have passed the strict standards of Halal food, as certified by the Central Islamic Council of Thailand, adding that Saudi Arabian representatives had inspected and endorsed the standards of 11 chicken processing plants in Thailand, so they can export their products to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia imports 75% of its chicken products from Brazil and 25% from Ukraine and France. From now on, Jurin said, Saudi Arabia will become a major export market for Thai chicken products.
Last year, Thailand exported 900,000 tonnes of chicken products, bringing in 100 billion baht into the country. This year, the exports are estimated to amount to up to 980,000 tonnes, Jurin added.
CP Foods CEO Prasit Boondoungprasert said the company will export 600 tonnes of chicken products, worth about 47 million baht, to Saudi Arabia this month and aims to export 6,000 tonnes of chicken this year.
Thai Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi signed two agreements on Monday, related to employment in the general workforce and domestic workers in Riyadh.
The deals also include the protection of the rights of Thai workers and their Saudi employers and the setting up of a mechanism for ensuring the implementation of the two agreements.
Direct flights between Bangkok and Riyadh have resumed following the inaugural flight on February 28, the first in 32 years. The diplomatic downgrade followed a high-profile jewelry theft by a Thai worker at a Saudi palace known as the “Blue Diamond Affair”.
Thailand is among the world’s biggest exporters of poultry, particularly frozen and processed chicken meat.