Thailand Plans OPEC-Style 'Rice Cartel'

PM wants to control market with neighbors, including Burma
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2008 9:54 AM CDT
In this photo released by the Thai Spokesman Office,Thailandâ%uFFFD%uFFFDs Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, left, shows his collection of cat figurines to Myanmar Prime Minister Gen. Thein Sein at his...   (AP Photo/Thai Spokesman Office, HO)
camera-icon View 5 more images

(Newser) – The prime minister of Thailand is exploring the idea of setting up a rice price-fixing cartel with four other governments in southeast Asia, including the military dictatorship of Burma. The Bangkok Post reports that Samak Sundaravej wants to establish an OPEC-style collective of producers that will influence the market for rice, whose rapidly rising price has resulted in protests and hunger riots.

Thailand is the world's leading exporter of rice and has long pondered ways to exert more control over prices. But Burma—whose military ruler, Gen. Thein Sein, was in Bangkok on an official visit—does not export rice, and the Thai government is hoping to induce the nation to produce more to ease demand.