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Traders at border say Thais ban corn sales

Cambodia farmers and traders along the Thai border claim corn prices have fallen as the result of an import ban by the neighbouring kingdom, leaving them with excess stores of the crop and no buyers.

But Thai officials in Phnom Penh have been quick to point out that any ban must have been initiated by the private sector, not by Thailand’s government.

Pailin-based trader Chea Kea said he had 10,000 tonnes of corn in storage, and the price per kilogram had fallen about 100 riels to 1,080 riels since the ban was imposed two weeks ago. “Now it is chaos due to having products, but no buyers,” he said.

Farmers could keep dry corn in storage for some time, but lacked the capital to replant, Chea Kea said.

He said Cambodian customs officials had confirmed the ban, which they claimed was the result of Thai officials responding to complaints from Thai farmers worried about competition from their Cambodian counterparts.

Chea Kea said he had assumed the ban was temporary, but did not know when it would end.

The corn ban was also confirmed by Cheam Chansophoan, director of Battambang’s provincial agricultural department. The Thais were prioritising their farmers’ crops, he said.

Jiranun Wongmongkol, commercial counsellor at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, said yesterday she knew of no such ban and did not believe it was a Thai government policy.

The move had most likely been agreed to by both sides, given the increased corn supplies along the border, Jiranun  said. Thai corn had also dropped in price, she claimed.

“I think both sides’ traders agreed to stop awhile, because near Battambang and Pailin there is a lot of Thai corn,” Jiranun said, adding than an influx of Cambodian corn also would have hurt prices across the border.

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