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Mekong Countries Consider Rice Coalition

  • Kong Sothanarith
  • VOA Khmer

Prime Ministers, from left, Thein Sein of Myanmar, Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam, Hun Sen of Cambodia, and Bouasone Bouphavanh of Laos, shake hands during an opening ceremony of the 5th Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam summit in the Cambodia's Peace Palac

Prime Ministers, from left, Thein Sein of Myanmar, Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam, Hun Sen of Cambodia, and Bouasone Bouphavanh of Laos, shake hands during an opening ceremony of the 5th Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam summit in the Cambodia's Peace Palac

Cambodia and its four Mekong River neighbors are considering a regional rice agreement that would help in the manufacturing and export of rice globally.

Cambodia, along with Burma, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, would not seek to “haggle” prices, such as OPEC, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday, following a summit of the five Southeast Asian nations.

Instead, the association would create food stability, he said, following the end of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy summit.

“The aim of ACMECS to create the Association of Rice Export is to ensure the stability of food in the world and at least in the region, which is suffering from climate change,” Hun Sen said.

The establishment of such an organization would take time, however. Hun Sen said ministers from each of the countries should further discuss the proposal a reach a compromise.

Thailand is the world's largest rice exporter, sending out approximately 8 million tons per year. It is followed by Vietnam, with around 6 billion tons per year. Cambodia meanwhile exports about 100,000 tons per year, but the government has made rice export a top priority and is seeking to reach the 1 million ton mark by 2015.

Economists here say that will require a major improvement in rice quality and other export factors.

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