>Mekong river nations consider Asian rice cartel

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(R-L) Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh of Laos, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam, Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat of Thailand and Prime Minister Thein Sein of Myanmar at the third summit of the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) in Hanoi November 7, 2008 during which they also proposed a rice exporting cartel.

REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

Southeast Asia’s five Mekong river countries are actively studying a plan to set up an association of rice-exporting nations.

Vietnam’s prime minister made the announcement after a regional summit of the Mekong River nations with Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Burma.

He says these nations are the rice bowl of the Asian region and their exports account for about 50 percent of the world market so they have an important role to play in ensuring food security.

Thailand proposed a rice exporters’ cartel last April, as world grain prices reached record levels.

It backed away from the plan after the Asian Development Bank and rice importing nations criticised it, saying it would exacerbate hunger and poverty.

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