BANGKOK Nov 29 Thailand, the world's second biggest sugar exporter, will have around 7 million tonnes available for shipment next year after setting aside 2.3 million tonnes for domestic consumption, the Office of the Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB) said on Thursday.
The 2012/13 harvest started on Nov. 15 and around 56,000 tonnes of sugar has been produced so far.
"We forecast 2012/13 output at 9.4 million tonnes. There should be around 7 million tonnes left for exports next year," Somsak Suwattiga, the OCSB's secretary-general, told Reuters.
Thailand normally allocates 2.2 million to 2.4 million tonnes for the home market, known as Quota A sugar, and the rest for export.
Thailand exported a record 6.71 million tonnes in 2011 and is expected to ship around 7.7 million tonnes in 2012, according to traders and industry officials.
Traders said they expected Thai exports to remain strong as demand was good, especially in Asia.
"I'm not worried about selling sugar next year as there are buyers everywhere, especially in Asia," said one Bangkok-based trader.
Traders said strength in demand after prices dipped had encouraged major buyers, such as China, to build up stocks.
New York raw sugar futures for March delivery fell 0.07 cent to settle at 19.16 cents per lb on Wednesday. That was about half the 30-year high of 36.08 cents per lb hit in February 2011.
Between January and August, Thailand exported 6.5 million tonnes of sugar, up 18 percent from the same period last year, when it sold 5.5 million tonnes.
The rise in exports was largely due to Chinese buying, traders said.
China has bought around 934,000 tonnes of sugar from Thailand so far this year, almost four times more than the roughly 239,000 tonnes in the same period last year, OCSB data show. (Reporting by Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat; Editing by Alan Raybould and Clarence Fernandez)