Commerce Ministry: State-initiated rice pledging program is different from WTO’s agricultural subsidies

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BANGKOK, 10 August 2012 – The Commerce Ministry has assured that the government’s rice pledging program is not considered agricultural subsidies, as defined by the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

Permanent Secretary to the Commerce Ministry Yanyong Phuangrach said on Thursday that the US Department of Agriculture will send its representatives to Thailand at the end of August to inspect the government’s rice pledging program.

Mr. Yanyong stated that the upcoming visit is intended to verify whether the Thai government-initiated program is considered underhanded agricultural subsidies in practice.

The Commerce Ministry’s Permanent Secretary denied such a doubt, saying the Thai policy is intended to help boost farmers’ income and the exports of rice without lowering the cost or meddling with market mechanism.

He went on to say that the Commerce Ministry has predicted that the global supply of rice in 2012 will not be sufficient to meet the demand, as this year’s output is estimated at 465 million tons or only 0.25 percent higher than in 2011, while the demand is pegged at 466.7 million tons or 1.84 percent more than last year.