Five Southeast Asia countries to form rice association

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Trade ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam will sign an agreement later this year to establish a regional rice association, a Thai official told the Bangkok Post on August 23.

The agreement will aim to boost rice prices by 10 percent per year and will be the first cooperation relating to rice prices in Southeast Asia, a region that exports 20 million tons of rice every year, Thailand's permanent secretary of Ministry of Commerce Yanyong Phuangrach said.

The 10 percent increase in rice prices each year is acceptable and will not cause major effects on customers, he said, adding that it was agreed upon among the five countries that boosting rice prices would be reasonable since rice is the main source of revenue for them.

After the association is formed, export prices of Thailand's white premium rice will increase 9 percent from around US$600 per ton to $660 per ton, the secretary predicted.

However, Chairman of Thailand Rice Exporter Association Korbsook Lamsuri said she feared that raising prices could create conflict with other countries in the region who import rice such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

At the moment, the export price of 5 percent broken rice from Thailand is 21 percent higher than that of Vietnam, which is $550 per ton, according to the information of Gentraco JSC, a Vietnamese rice export company. 

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