With food and grain prices surging worldwide, an organization of rice-producing nations appears to be in the works, the New York Times reports.
"Governments in Thailand, the world's largest rice exporter, have for many years toyed with the idea of using their dominant market position to influence the price of rice in the same way that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries tries to set crude oil prices," the paper reports. "[I]f successful, a cartel could have far-reaching consequences on the rice market, sustaining prices at their current historic highs and worsening a food crisis that is hurting Asia's poorest consumers. The price of Thai B-grade rice, a benchmark variety, has nearly tripled in recent months and is now hovering at about $1,000 a ton."
The consortium would include Laos, Vietnam, Burma (Myanmar), and Cambodia. Other major rice exporters include Egypt and Brazil. China and India are major producers, but the domestic populations there consume most of their output.