China has agreed to buy one million tonnes of Thai rice “every year”, an increase from the pledge made during the Chinese prime minister's visit over the next five years, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Sunday.
The rice purchases would be made through government-to-government (G2G) contracts and would continue without a time frame, helping to ease the burden on the government and its burgeoning rice stocks.
Beijing also agreed to buy 200,000 tonnes of rubber from Thailand annually.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in front of an Otop Centre in Chiang Mai on Sunday. (Photo from www.facebook.com/Y.Shinawatra)
Ms Yingluck revealed the information at a press conference in Bangkok after returning from Chiang Mai where she led a visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to a Chinese language school and an Otop centre Sunday morning.
After the visit, Mr Li ended his three-day visit and left Thailand for Vietnam at 11am. He is on his maiden trip to Southeast Asia since he took office in March.
The new deal came only two days after Beijing signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to buy one million tonnes of Thai rice over the next five years directly from Thai traders, but not from government stocks.
The premier said that during the tour in Chiang Mai she further discussed the rice issue with her Chinese counterpart and Mr Li agreed that Beijing should change from buying one million tonnes of Thai rice over the next five years to every year as Beijing saw the two countries had established a long and good relationship.
Regular trade of rice and rubber by the private sector was not included in Sunday’s agreement, Ms Yingluck said.
She instructed Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan to hold further talks with Chinese authorities over the issue, including seeking to pursuade Beijing to buy other produce from Thailand.
“The trade can start this year but we will see which month,” Ms Yingluck said.
At the press conference, reporters asked Ms Yinglkuck if she was worried after MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, a former deputy prime minister and finance minister, threatened to expose information in relation to corruption in the government’s rice pledging scheme.
She said the government was pleased to accept the information given by MR Pridiyathorn and would verify and clarify the issues.
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