Four border provinces being studied in initiative with neighbouring countries
As the world’s largest rice exporter, Thailand will cooperate with its neighbours in
Asean to establish rice-trading zones in border provinces.The initiative is part of Asean’s
rice policy to promote the industry,boost farm income, raise and stabilise prices, and improve marketing efficiency. The four provinces now under study are Sa Kaew, Chantaburi and
Trat in the East and Buri Ram in the Northeast. Tikhumporn Natvaratat, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said last week that the department is now surveying
those provinces, as they have high competency to connect with other producers and exporters,
mainly Cambodia and Vietnam. The four areas also have logistics systems in place to support shipping of rice among the three countries, which are now major rice exporters in Asean.
According to a report of the United States’ Department of Agriculture and World Rice Trade,
Thailand is projected to export 6 million tonnes of rice this year, while Vietnam would ship 7 million tonnes and Cambodia about 800,000 tonnes. Myanmar will also gradually
increase its exports to 600,000 tonnes of rice this year. Thailand will work with other
Asean counties in setting up their own rice-trading zones, which are duty-free centres for trading. They will also serve as a centre for highquality polishing and a base for shipping to third countries. Not only will government agencies join in the development of the rice-trading zones, but also private sector partners such as millers and exporters. After the study is completed,
the plan will be forwarded to the commerce minister for proposal to other countries. They will be
asked to collaborate and commence action soon, he added.
Senior officials, millers and exporters of Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand have
already met to consider joint rice market operations. Such talks have paved the way for
closer cooperation in food security and energy among the Asean bloc and will promote closer cooperation between Asean and the Gulf Cooperation Council in the future.