KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will call on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (Asean) main rice supplying nations to prioritise the bloc's member countries amid concerns over rising prices and supply shortages, state news agency Bernama reported on Wednesday.
Malaysia may hold talks with Thailand or Vietnam on rice supplies, Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister Chan Foong Hin said on Wednesday, as agriculture ministers from Asean gather in Kuala Lumpur this week.
"At the bilateral sessions, we will raise it, just like how we want to further strengthen ties between two countries so that priority is given to exporting rice to Asean countries," Chan said.
Thailand and Vietnam are the world's second- and third-largest exporters of rice after India.
Malaysia imports about 38% of its rice needs and is among several countries affected by export restrictions imposed by producers like India.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Monday threatened legal action against anyone found hoarding rice as rising costs and lower supplies have led to consumers stockpiling local grains.
Malaysia also announced subsidies and other measures to try to cool rice prices and ensure sufficient supply of locally produced white rice in the market.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim attends the 26th Asean-China Summit at the 43rd Asean Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept 6, 2023. (Photo: Reuters)