Top rice exporters push ASEAN Rice Confederation

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Thailand and other major rice exporters in Southeast Asia are speeding up establishment of an ASEAN Rice Confederation in an attempt to stabilise rice prices and enhance their collective bargaining power.

Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Puangrach on Thursday convened a meeting of representatives of ASEAN’s rice producing nations–Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand–taking place today and tomorrow in Bangkok. The meeting is discussing launching an ASEAN Rice Confederation as well as mapping out a joint rice management system.

According to the minister, Southeast Asia is now capable of producing 20 million tonnes of rice annually or two thirds of rice produced globally–about 30 million tonnes a year. ASEAN is now facing many problems associated with rice production, whether in marketing, pricing, management, logistics and stock systems.

Regional countries need to join together to increase negotiating power, while stepping back from competing against each other.

At the meeting, Mr Yanyong stressed Thailand’s readiness to become the trading hub for rice in ASEAN due to the country’s advancement in rice technology, logistics and finance.

He said Chachoengsao and Sa Kaeo provinces have initially been chosen as Special Rice Trade Zones, though both positive and negative impacts needed to be studied thoroughly before an official designation is made.