Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has said China would support plans by domestic companies to buy a million tonnes of rice a year from Thailand for an indefinite period, against an earlier pledge to take the same volume over 5 years.
Thailand is under pressure to move record rice stockpiles amassed in a populist grain-buying scheme designed to support farmers. It has announced a series of sales to several countries, many of which have denied taking Thai rice.
“The Chinese government had agreed to buy 1 million tonnes of rice in 5 years,” Yingluck told reporters on Sunday after a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Bangkok. “Today, they agreed to adjust the number to 1 million tonnes a year.”
The comments came on the last day of Li’s three-day visit to Thailand. The Thai commerce ministry will study details of the plan, which is expected to begin this year, Yingluck said, adding that a timeframe for the deal had not yet been fixed.
There was no official comment from the Chinese side.
On Friday Li said China would buy one million tonnes of Thai rice over the next five years but made no mention of government deals.
He said purchases would be from private firms, making no mention of 1.2 million tonnes the Thai government said last month was sold to China in a government-to-government deal.