China cancels deal to buy Thai rice due to graft probe
BANGKOK (REUTERS) - China has cancelled a government-to-government deal to buy 1.2 million tonnes of Thai rice after Thailand's anti-corruption agency launched investigations into a state rice-buying scheme, the Thai commerce minister said.
"China lacks confidence to do business with us after the National Anti-Corruption Commission started investigations into the transparency of rice deals between Thailand and China," Mr Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan told reporters.
He said the government would open a tender to sell 400,000 tonnes of rice from state stocks next week. Industry experts estimate those stocks could be about 15 million tonnes. The government is desperate to get funds for the scheme because some farmers who have sold grain to the state have been waiting months for their money.
The deal between Thailand and Chinese state enterprise Beidahuang was signed on Nov 20, for delivery starting in December. The shipment was delayed, however, after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved Parliament in December.