Thailand wants regional body to boost rice value

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BANGKOK, Aug 23 –  Permanent Secretary for Commerce Yanyong Puangrach said Thailand will join with four neighbouring countries to set up a federation of rice traders with the objective of pushing up regional rice prices.

Prior to the ASEAN Summit in October, commerce ministers of five Indochina countries including Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar will discuss the establishment of a world rice federation to keep a lookout for rice trading in the global market.

The five rice-growing countries currently sell 20 million tonnes of rice overall — two-thirds of the total global trading volume of 30 million tonnes.

Mr Yanyong said he strongly believes that the rice federation will raise the standard and value of rice in the ASEAN region. He was also confident that free trading in ASEAN in the future will consequently increase the sales volume and value of rice in the five countries.

Thailand remains the largest rice exporter in the ASEAN community, followed by Vietnam.

In early August, the Thai government projected 2012 rice exports at 8.5-9 million tonnes while Vietnam set an export target at 6-7 million tonnes annually until 2015. Vietnam’s annual export projection was close to its recorded export of 7.2 million tonnes in 2011.

With huge export volumes from Thailand, India and Vietnam, rice prices in Asia may decline compared to the highest value of US$1,000 per tonne in 2008 when a food crisis affected many countries.

The permanent secretary of commerce said the government’s bidding of about 700,000 tonnes of rice in the near future is aimed at helping exporters while rice in government’s stock will be sold on a government-to-government basis at cheaper prices.

China, Indonesia, Iraq and Iran are keen to buy rice from Thailand, he added.