SUNDAY, April 21, 2024

Thailand recalls its Ambassador to WTO after India's protest

Thailand recalls its Ambassador to WTO after India's protest

Thailand has decided to recall its Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Pimchanok Vonkorpon  Pitfield, following a protest from India regarding her recent remarks, according to sources from the Indian government on Friday.

Foreign news agencies reported that this diplomatic move underscores the escalating tension between the two nations over allegations made during a consultation meeting in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

India, expressing deep disappointment, registered its protest against Pimchanok's comments made during a consultation meeting held on a Tuesday. 

Pimchanok's remarks accused New Delhi of exploiting its rice procurement program at Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the public distribution system not for the welfare of its citizens but for gaining an upper hand in the export market.

In response to India's protest, Thailand made the decision to recall its Ambassador to the WTO. This decision was communicated by government officials on a Friday, signalling a significant development in the diplomatic relations between the two countries. 

The recall comes amid the ongoing 13th ministerial conference (MC), which has now entered its fifth day of talks.

The official disclosure highlighted that Pimchanok has been instructed to return to Thailand, and notably, she is expected to take on the role of the Thai foreign secretary in this context. This move signifies the seriousness with which Thailand is addressing the diplomatic fallout resulting from the controversial remarks 
made by its Ambassador.

The government official emphasized that Pimchanok's facts were inaccurate, clarifying that only about 40% of the paddy produce is procured by the government to fulfil food security commitments.

India's prominence in global rice exports was evident in 2022, where it accounted for a substantial 22.24 million tonnes, representing 40.63% of the world's rice exports. 

However, in 2023, India imposed restrictions on the export of broken and non-basmati white rice. This decision was influenced by concerns surrounding uncertainties in rice production, both domestically and in other rice-producing nations, attributed to geopolitical factors, El Nino sentiments, and extreme climatic 

The export bans aimed to stabilize domestic prices and ensure ample availability in the local market.

As India took these measures, it maintained its position as the world's largest rice-exporting country from 2018 to 2022, surpassing major players like Thailand and Vietnam. Despite the bans on broken and non-basmati white rice, India continued to export basmati and parboiled non-basmati rice.

Thailand is a member of the Cairns Group, a coalition of 19 nations advocating for the free flow of agricultural commodities without restrictions, adding another layer to the diplomatic complexities arising from Pimchanok's comments. 

This situation underscores the intricate dynamics involved in global agricultural trade and the efforts of nations to balance their domestic priorities with international trade commitments.