In a significant policy shift, Thailand has decided to remove the controls on coal exports. The Director General of the Department of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Commerce recently unveiled that the Cabinet meeting held on August 23, 2023, approved the proposal to repeal a Ministry of Commerce announcement that had governed the export of domestically sourced coal. This step aims to streamline regulatory oversight and minimize redundancy in export supervision.
The move comes in response to a broader context involving the Ministry of Industry’s notifications since 2021, which outlined the mineral types and conditions prohibited for export. This notification, issued in line with the Mineral Act B.E., established a framework for mineral export controls. In light of this, the repeal of the Ministry of Commerce’s announcement concerning coal exports signifies a deliberate effort to harmonize regulations.
Importantly, this regulatory change translates to a liberalization of coal export activities, eliminating the requirement to seek approval from the Ministry of Commerce for the export of imported coal. The resolution, developed in consultation with pertinent entities including the Department of Primary Industries and Mines, Department of Mineral Fuels, Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, Customs Department, and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, will take effect from the date of publication in the Government Gazette.
Historically, Thailand has been involved in both coal exports and imports. Notably, from 2020 to 2021, Thailand’s coal exports averaged around 0.11 million tons annually. In 2022, this volume increased to 0.18 million tons, with a total value of 1,262 million baht.
Thailand’s coal trade landscape is marked by diverse partners. In terms of exports, Cambodia holds the lead, accounting for 68% of Thailand’s coal export destinations, followed by Bangladesh at 14%, and others comprising the remaining 18%. Conversely, Thailand’s coal imports amount to 21 million tons, with a total worth of 94,895 million baht. The primary sources for these imports are Indonesia at 70%, followed by Australia at 24%, with other countries constituting the remaining 6%.
This shift in coal export regulations reflects Thailand’s ongoing efforts to fine-tune its trade dynamics while fostering a conducive environment for international commerce. As the changes take root, they are poised to impact Thailand’s coal trade and related industries, with potential implications for economic dynamics in the region.