After months of discussion, Vietnam and Thailand have agreed to cooperate to increase the price of rice in the global market, an official from the Thailand agriculture ministry said on Monday. The goal is to increase their leverage in the global market and boost farmers’ incomes.
After a meeting with Vietnamese officials, Alongkorn Ponlaboot told the local media in Bangkok that this is the first time the two Southeast Asian countries have reached an agreement to work side by side “in lifting the price of rice in the global market.” Alongkorn is the adviser to Thailand's agriculture and cooperatives minister.
The agriculture adviser said a summary of the latest round of talks and the recommendation to raise prices jointly would be presented to the agriculture ministers of both countries at an unspecified date.
When asked if the agreement would accomplish the primary goal, Alongkorn said he couldn’t answer that yet. “But today, we have taken our first steps together as strategic partners in agriculture,” he added.
The Vietnam Food Association and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.
In May this year, the initial dialogues between two rice producers were deemed “impossible” by the Thai export body officials, questioning its viability. Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of Thailand’s Rice Exporters Association, said the officials never asked their group’s perspective about the said proposal.
According to a report from Reuters, Chookiat noted that Thailand and Vietnam are not the largest exporters. “Politicians don’t understand the rice market” and did not discuss it with the association before releasing it to the media.
The head of Vietnam’s food association shared the same opinion. However, the Vietnamese agriculture ministry did not release any information concerning the May 2022 discussions.
As per the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development data, Vietnam exported nearly 4.2 million tonnes of rice in the first seven months of 2022, up 20.5% year-on-year.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, Vietnam and Thailand account for about 10% of global production of rough rice, and about 26% of global exports.