Commerce officials urge Iraqis to lift ban on Thai rice

Economy March 29, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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The Foreign Trade Department hopes Iraq will cancel its ban on Thai rice imports after a team met with the Iraqi Grain Board to offer assurances of the commodity's quality.

Moreover, to ensure rice quality, the department has urged inspectors to ensure the efficiency of their certification procedures or risk having their inspector permits seized. In the meantime, the department has sent out teams to shore up the reputation of Thai rice at many international meetings.

After a mission to Iraq this week, director-general Surasak Riangkrul said his department had ordered all inspectors holding its operating permits to perform their duties stringently, to ensure the quality not only of rice but of other agricultural products.

Iraq suspended the import of Thai rice last August after allegations of low quality standards. Surasak said Thailand would soon send samples of white, parboiled and jasmine rice to Iraq, which the department believes will help assuage the Iraqis’ concerns. As well, Iraq will send a team of officials to Thailand next month to consider resuming rice purchases.

Before the ban, Iraq was a major importer of Thai rice, with volume of 500,000-600,000 tonnes a year.

Surasak said the department would continue to send officials to international meetings to bolster the image of Thai rice.

Meanwhile, caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach denied that the price of Thai rice had plunged in the world market because of dumping by Thai traders. He said the fact was some unscrupulous traders had spread rumours to drive down the price.

He also said drought and consequent low supply would keep the price from getting too low.