BANGKOK – Thailand’s Commerce Minister, General Chatchai Sarikulya has confirmed details of a deal that will see China purchase two million tonnes of rice from the Thai government between 2015 and 2016.
The minister said he expects the agreement to be officially concluded on Thursday (March 12) after an agreement was signed during Chinese premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Thailand in December. Already 300,000 tonnes of Thai rice have been shipped.
According to the Thai Commerce Ministry, one million tonnes of rice will sourced from the state stockpile while the other one million will be from new output. Thailand is currently sitting on a stockpile of about 17 million tonnes of rice, which it plans to sell; the result of the Yingluck Shinawatra government’s rice subsidy scheme.
General Chatchai said last month that he is confident Thailand will be able to clear its stockpile within two years despite the delay in sales. In the past, the country exported about 500,000 tonnes of rice to China annually, and the price paid for this latest purchase has not been revealed.
Thailand received bids for around 780,000 tonnes of rice out of the one million tonnes offered in its latest tender of stockpiled rice. The results from that tender are expected to be finalised next week.
Aside from rice, China has also agreed to buy 200,000 tonnes of rubber.
The announcement came as Thailand continues to thrash out details of rail cooperation with China. Last December, the two countries agreed to jointly develop an 873km dual-track standard gauge rail that will eventually provide a crucial trade link.