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Vijavat Isarabhakdi, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the Daily in Bangkok last week that stronger cooperation in rice trade will help lift prices and protect their prestige.
The important thing is that both sides need to shake hands to keep rice prices, quality and volume, he remarked, explaining that rice growers of the countries and consumers will benefit from the bilateral cooperation.
Thailand over the past time has restricted rice export volume which creates favorable conditions for Vietnam to become the world’s biggest rice supplier. However, according to Vijavat, no matter what the leading position belongs to either Vietnam or Thailand, rice export always remains vital to farmers of the two countries.
“The prime ministers of Vietnam and Thailand have recently shared the same voice over the bilateral cooperation, and personally I think that is a big goal of both sides in the near future,” Vijavat noted.
Regarding the reason why Thailand has lost the top rice export position to Vietnam in terms of volume, Vijavat said the change was due to objective reasons, not Thailand’s intention. This year seems promising to Thailand and we will strive to gain strong growth in rice export again, he said.
“Given unfavorable climate conditions and flooding, last year we were unable to achieve the target as expected. Besides, the Thai Government wants to focus on quality of rice, especially export products, and considers quality and prices as the nation’s leading goals,” he said.
Similarly, Nitivadee Manitkul, director of Thailand’s Division of Economic Relations and Cooperation, also insisted on the necessity for cooperation between Vietnam and Thailand in rice export.
Nitivadee said Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand are holding over 50% of the world’s rice trade. Therefore, she noted, Vietnam and Thailand should carry out further cooperation to have prices and quality of rice stabilized.
Thailand and Vietnam have the same agricultural foundation and share similar rice varieties with increasingly-improved quality, she told the Daily. Both sides should have more specific cooperation to map out a strategy for the rice industry in the coming time, she added.
Like Vietnam, besides boosting industrial and tourism development, Thailand is seeking ways to develop its agriculture as the majority of Thai people have still lived on farming. Food is the most important issue of all nations in the near future, therefore besides rice Vietnam and Thailand can join hands to help farmers increase production of coffee, rubber and fruits, she said.
“We are proposing the Government make more cooperation with Vietnam for other farm produce. The hi-tech agricultural cooperation between the nations is still being discussed and there may be more proposals for cooperation,” she added.