Roxas reiterates call for special ASEAN Rice Summit

Senator Mar Roxas reiterated his call for the Department of Foreign Affairs to formally propose a special ASEAN Leaders' Summit on Rice and Food Security in light of the impending creation of an Asian rice cartel known as OREC or Organization of Rice Exporting Countries led by Thailand.

Roxas, chair of the Senate trade and commerce committee, said the ASEAN must move as one in helping secure regional food security in light of soaring oil and rice prices.

"Neglecting to act as a regional bloc amid a rice and food crisis can raise doubts in the minds of other world leaders on ASEAN's determination to pursue economic integration," Roxas stressed.

"Before OREC is institutionalized, the ASEAN community must weigh in as a regional bloc to obtain trade privileges with its fellow members in keeping with the ASEAN spirit," Roxas said, adding that it would be unfortunate if the ASEAN bloc where the two biggest rice exporting countries in the world are members of, could not forge a common agenda on rice and food security.

He noted that the countries that would initially comprise OREC are all ASEAN members. According to the Thai government, four countries, namely, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam have agreed in principle to form a rice price-fixing cartel similar to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The senator said that even if Vietnam and Thailand have agreed to accept the Philippines' order for 1.2 million metric tons, the government should still confirm whether such shipments are iron-clad despite the formation of OREC.

"We need to see the bill of particulars governing these orders to check whether there are fixed dates for delivery and a firm, iron-clad commitment to meet the order," Roxas added.

Senator Roxas recommends that the DFA seek a briefing from the Thai Embassy on how the creation of an OREC would affect rice importing countries such as the Philippines.

"Given the cordial relations between and among the Philippines and these five ASEAN countries, we should take a more proactive role in clarifying the role of OREC and whether it is prepared to give concessions to fellow ASEAN members," Roxas said.

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Kevin Ray N. Chua is a 19 year-old blogger from Cebu City, Philippines and an IT Student at Cebu Institute of Technology.

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on May 3, 2008 at 4:57 PM  

After years of hiding from the limelight, mar roxas finally surfaced and is in the mass media everyday. Obviously, this is all for 2010. He even has an a product endorsement shown on TV that he seems not to notice is too much of a conflict of interest!

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