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Vietnam Expresses Support for Rice Cartel, If Development-Based

May 7, 2008 (EIRNS)—Vietnam can join a rice cartel if the organization ensures the interests of both Vietnam and the international community, according to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Nguyen Cam Tu. Vietnam should ensure national food security, economic development, and the interests of rice growers, while helping ensure the world's food supply and prevent food crises, he said.

Various media, including the major financial press, have charged that a rice cartel would drive up prices even futher by withholding rice from the market. The critics also charge that a cartel in rice just won't work, due to the nature of the commodity; rice planting can't be turned off like an oil spigot, the countries won't work together, rice is subject to spoilage, etc.

Instead, as Thailand's Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama explained after a meeting with ambassadors from six rice-exporting countries in Asia, "If Thailand fixes a price, that will make matters worse and worsen food security." Instead, Mr. Noppadon said Thailand proposed holding in the next month or two a meeting that would work with top Asian exporters, including India, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Pakistan, to improve productivity. He also said exporting countries would discuss sharing technology and market and price information.