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THAILAND/RICE EXPORTS Thai PM: No ban on shipments


April 28, 2008

Thai PM: No ban on shipments

Thailand's prime minister Samak Sundaravej promised Sunday that the kingdom would not cut rice exports, as soaring prices of Asia's staple grain continued to fuel concerns of a shortage, reported AFP.

In his weekly television address to the nation, Samak said Thailand would not announce a ban on rice exports. “It would destroy our reputation,” he said.

He explained that farmers were now planting five crops in two years -- up from the traditional two crops per year -- to ensure they met demand.

International demand for Thai rice has soared after other top exporters Vietnam and India imposed limits on exports to ensure domestic supply.

The benchmark Thai variety, Pathumthani fragrant rice, was priced on Wednesday at 998 dollars per tonne for export, up nearly 35 percent from a month earlier, the Thai Rice Exporters Association said in its price survey.

Domestic prices have followed a similar trend, and Samak on Sunday urged Thais not to hoard the grain.

World rice prices have soared this year, a trend blamed on higher energy and fertiliser costs, greater global demand, droughts, the loss of rice farmland to biofuel plantations, and price speculation.

Thailand, which shipped an estimated 9.5 million tonnes of rice overseas last year, has been at pains to convince the world that it has no plans to curb supplies.

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