Businesses hailed the government's planned rice trade partnership with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, but warned any effort to jointly fix prices would not be easy.
Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said it would be great if Thailand could share information on rice production, technology and know-how with other producing nations.
"This type of cooperation was proposed before, but there was no real exchange of information and technology because Thailand was reluctant to share such information," said Mr Chookiat. "If cooperation occurs, this will help cut rice production costs among producing countries and help develop rice trading zones."
Charnchai Rakthananon, president of the Thai Rice Millers Association, added the cooperation will help raise the income of farmers and stimulate the overall economy.
"Establishment of rice trading zones should be accelerated," he said. "Thailand is willing to help classify the quality of rice, particularly in Cambodia and Myanmar, where the quality and prices are much lower than Thai grains. Higher quality rice will help raise farmers' incomes."
The cabinet approved on Monday the Commerce Ministry's plan to develop a rice trading partnership with the countries to stabilise international rice prices.
The pact includes meetings with government officials from all five countries as well as representatives from the Asean rice cooperation committee and Asean rice millers and traders' associations.
Closer commercial and governmental cooperation is expected to stabilise rice prices in global markets, promote food security in the region, and prevent the smuggling of rice from neighbouring countries.
It is believed rice smugglers are cashing in on Thailand's rice pledging scheme.
Tikhumporn Natvaratat, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said Thailand will propose the conceptual framework for the partnership during the Asean summit on Nov 17-18 in Cambodia. He expects it to be signed during the meeting.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter