2008-0501 - BKK Post - PM floats idea of five-nation rice cartel
- 2008-0501 - BKK Post - PM floats idea of five-nation rice cartel
PM floats idea of five-nation rice cartel
Wants Mekong group to set prices like Opec
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has floated the idea of Thailand forming a rice price-fixing cartel with four Mekong countries _ Burma, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. His idea is to make the grouping of Mekong nations more like the oil cartel Opec, and it would be called the Organisation of Rice Exporting Countries (Orec).
The prime minister said he raised the idea with his Burmese counterpart, Gen Thein Sein, who is on a three-day official visit to Thailand.
Mr Samak said Gen Thein Sein agreed with his rice cartel idea.
Mr Samak said he learned from the Burmese prime minister that Burma produced rice only to meet local demand and so it did not export rice.
He urged Burma to produce more rice and join forces with Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand in the proposed Orec which will collectively set rice prices.
Mr Samak said he would offer assistance to Burma to enable it to boost rice productivity.
Apart from the rice issue, the two prime ministers focused on the development of Tavoy deep-sea port, a 130-kilometre-long road from the port to the Thai-Burmese border and another road section, 20 kilometres long, to reach the Thai railway network.
From the railway connection, a gas pipeline will be laid to the industrial zone of Map Ta Phut in Rayong.
Besides, iron and copper could be transported from Burma for smelting in Map Ta Phut, Mr Samak said.
In addition, the Thai railway network will be connected with China's Kunming through Laos.
Mr Samak said he would discuss the railway network with Chinese President Hu Jintao during his official visit to China on May 15.
''I will talk about new railway tracks that will be built from Kunming to (Laos') Luang Nam Tha, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Pachi district of Ayutthaya province, Kanchanaburi province and the Tavoy deep-sea port. The project will be implemented soon,'' Mr Samak said.
He said he also discussed progress toward democracy in Burma with Gen Thein Sein. He said Burma had its own style of ''50% democracy,'' noting that the country is to hold a referendum on its draft constitution on May 10 and organise an election in two years.
He said Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, will have to stay away from the election due to the constitution which bans anyone who has married a foreigner from running in an election and holding elected office.
''They will not release her. They're keeping her on the shelf,'' he said.
Other countries may not agree with the ''shelving Mrs Suu Kyi'' idea but Mr Samak said he would have no problems with it.
''That's 50% democracy,'' he said.
© Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 2008