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Thailand May Lose Rice Markets In AEC
23 | 02 | 2011
A Thai economist projected Tuesday that Thailand is likely to lose its rice markets in Southeast Asia to Vietnam when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) is formed by 2015, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.

BANGKOK, Feb 22 (Bernama) -- The Thai economist, Dr Aat Pisanwanich, Director of University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's Center for International Trade Studies, acknowledged that Thailand should benefit less than Vietnam in terms of rice exports once the AEC and the Asean Single Community are established, as Vietnam has dominated Asean rice markets since 2004.

Dr Aat pointed out that Vietnam's premium rice is now tasted better when compared with Thailand's jasmine rice, and that Thailand has already lost its low quality rice market in the Philippines to Vietnam and appears to be losing the Malaysian market.

The Thai economist cautioned that Vietnam's total volume of rice exports is likely to be comparable with Thailand's over the next 10 years, as Hanoi has more teams for proactive marketing campaigns than those in Thailand and the Vietnamese rice is cheaper.

Besides, the Thai economist said that Vietnam has joined forces with other countries to establish rice distribution centers overseas, including those in Africa, which have boosted Vietnam's rice exports consequently, and that the recent devaluation of the Vietnamese dong has further promoted Vietnam's rice exports with growing shipments of its low quality rice to overseas markets, especially Africa.

At present, Thailand exports about nine million tonnes of rice annually; while Vietnam exports some seven million tonnes. Dr Aat suggested that Thailand reposition its exported rice by focusing more on premium rice markets, while protect its low-quality rice markets parallelly, to maintain the country's rice export markets, particularly in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), as Thai rice remains superior.

According to the Thai economist, the establishment of the AEC will result in a 15-per cent rise in incomes for Thai rice farmers, but an 84-per cent surge for other people concerned in relevant businesses. Incomes of Thai rice farmers has increased by only 1,009 baht a household annually, from 50,524 to 51,534 baht, while those of other concerned people who are not rice farmers have soared by as much as 5,665 baht a household annually, from 321,709 baht to 327,375 baht.

Besides, Dr Aat noted that all Thai farmers have not properly or deeply known about the AEC; so, the Thai government should provide them with comprehensive information through community-level learning centres -- where specialised officials and operation funds are sufficiently available.

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