By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Thailand will forge closer ties with Cambodia and other neighbouring countries to increase competency in rice trading and boost the bargaining power of Asean countries by setting up a rice-trading zone soon.
Also, Thailand will expand crop cooperation to cassava to raise farm incomes in the region.
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said yesterday that Thailand would strengthen cooperation with Cambodia in the trading of rice and other crops such as cassava to ensure stable cereal prices and promote more trading of Asean crops in the world market.
The proposal will be discussed during the fourth Joint Trade Commission (JTC) meeting in Phnom Penh on Sunday and Monday. Boonsong will lead Thai officials to the meeting with Cambodian Commerce Minister Cham Prasith to discuss closer cooperation in trade, economics and investment, as well as ways to break down trade barriers.
Boonsong will discuss with his counterpart how to ensure sustainability to strengthen cooperation in the rice-farming industry and boost farmer incomes by setting up a free-trade zone for rice. Thailand will help Cambodia develop its rice-polishing capability as this country is more advanced in polishing, milling and exporting the grain.
The cooperation will help prevent the smuggling of cheaper rice from Cambodia to pledge to the Thai government under the price-support scheme. Cambodia enjoys lower costs of production.
Thailand has also asked for closer cooperation with Myanmar on the issue of a rice-trading zone.
Thailand will help Cambodia promote its cassava under the same concept of rice trading. it will help encourage more trading of cereals, such as cassava and maize, by promoting contract farming to ensure stable incomes for farmers.
The JTC will discuss a strategy to promote bilateral trade with an emphasis on cross-border shipments, which account for 65 per cent of two-way trade value.
Cambodia is the eighth-largest trading partner of Thailand in Asean and its No 26 trading partner of the world.
Last year, two-way trade was valued at US$4.03 billion (Bt116 billion), or 0.84 per cent of Thailand’s total trade. Exports to Cambodia were worth $3.78 billion against only $249.5 million for imports from that country.
Thailand will seek more trade and investment opportunities with Cambodia, which can supply plentiful labour and natural resources and can act as a bridge to Vietnam, Boonsong said.