Bangkok Post, Published: 3/01/2010
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry has aired concerns about smuggled rice from neighbouring countries after the full implementation of the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) agreement.
Key elements of the agreement between members of the accord, which came into force on Friday, are zero tariffs and unlimited quotas for 23 farm products which include rice. The full trade liberalisation applies only to six members at present – Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam will join in 2015.
The ministry is concerned gangs may take the opportunity to smuggle cheaper rice from neighbouring countries which at present do not benefit from the free trade pact into Thailand for exporting to the five other Asean members, according to Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Theera Wongsamut.