Responding to a request from Battambang province, the Ministry of Commerce is supporting the establishment of provincial Chambers of Commerce to deal with local economic issues.
Pa Socheat Vong, second deputy governor in the province, used the current glut in the corn market as an example of such a local issue. Farmers produced 450,000 tons for sale, and most years they are able to sell all their corn to Thai dealers who come to Battambang town.
But this year the demand from Thailand is only 50,000 tons. Corn prices plummeted as low as 1.5 to 2 baht/kg (about $0.03 to $0.05) before rising recently to 3.5 to 4 baht/kg (about $0.08 to $0.10)
Pa Socheat Vong envisions an organization that could market corn to other countries. Khek Ravy, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, agrees.
“Recently there have been a lot of complaints from Battambang farmers about corn prices and from Kompong Cham farmers about tobacco prices,” Khek Ravy said. “We [the government] have to force commercial banks to loan as much money as they can to provincial traders….Now Thailand and Vietnam are buying products from us and processing them for international markets. We might also be able to do that.”
Khek Ravy said a provincial Chamber of Commerce would need an independent constitution, and would have to sit down with provincial officials and traders to set up market rules and standards for product quality.