Thailand is the world’s biggest exporter of starch1, the world’s largest producer of native tapioca starch2 and the third world producer of manioc roots3, which produce tapioca. The European starch industry requests exclusion of Thai native tapioca starch and various strategic and high added value starch products in the EU-Thailand FTA negotiation and only limited TRQs for other starch products.

1.   Thailand is the world’s biggest exporter of starch

Thai tapioca is produced by large scale processors which export 65% of their starch production6. Thailand’s area is only slightly bigger than Spain but its starch production capacity already amounts to half of the EU’s total starch production7;8.

Thai native starch directly competes with EU wheat, maize and potato based native starches at a significantly lower price. This price advantage for native Thai tapioca starch also applies to modified starches and the other derived starch products which are based on Thai tapioca starch. The Thai starch industry already has the technology to produce strategic high added value starch products.

The EU starch industry also faces environmental and regulatory requirements which increase further its production costs, in comparison with Thailand.

2.   Public authorities support the development of the Thai starch industry

Public authorities are heavily involved in the development of the starch industry in South-East Asia, and particularly in Thailand in various ways including yield improvement9 and the development of the bioeconomy10;11.

3.   Rules of origin and regional cumulation

In the context of intense negotiations between the EU and neighbouring countries, the EU starch industry also draws attention to the rules of origin which should prevent trade circumvention. The AAF requests that the tapioca roots used for the processing of tapioca starch must originate from the country where the processing activity occurs.

1) Thai tapioca starch association (2010) Analysis of Thai tapioca market

2) Tapioca starch is also referred to as manioc or cassava starch.

3) Thai tapioca starch association (2010) Analysis of Thai tapioca market

LMC (2012) Developments in the international starch industry - Prospects for EU starch producers.

4) 2010

5) Over 2008-2010 period

6) Prof. Dr. K. Sriroth (2013) Outlook of Thai tapioca industry, presentation held on 20 June 2013 at the World Tapioca conference

7) Chavalparit, Orathai, & Ongwandee,  Maneerat (2009) Clean technology for the tapioca starch industry in Thailand, Journal of Cleaner Production n°17.

8) Normally, these tapioca plants operate 24 h a day for 8–9 months, from September to May.

9) LMC, 2013, The competitiveness of starch crops in South-East Asia, Starch and Fermentation Analysis -   March 2013, .

10) Waramit, Naroon (2012) Developing a bioeconomy in Thailand

11) USDA (2012) Thailand Annual report on biofuel sector


September 9, 2013