ASEAN countries must prioritize members’ rice needs – Malaysia state media

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 7 (Reuters) – Southeast Asian countries have agreed to prioritize helping each other deal with rice supply shortages and other food-related problems, Malaysia’s state news agency Bernama reported, citing the agriculture minister.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached an agreement at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur this week, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu said on Friday.

„ASEAN cooperation means that when faced with rice issues, ASEAN member states will give priority to ASEAN countries first,” he said.

Mohamad said Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand have indicated they are considering new requests for additional imports.

Malaysia, which imports 38% of its rice needs, is one of several countries affected by top exporters such as India restricting exports. The government on Monday announced subsidies and other measures to offset rising grain prices and ensure adequate supply in the market.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has warned that legal action will be taken against those hoarding rice and action will be taken to prevent consumers from hoarding local grains.

Daniel Azar reports; Editing: William Mallard

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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