Thai Customs Seizes Burmese Rice
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Thai Customs Seizes Burmese Rice

By Aung Su Shin/Mae Sot Tuesday, August 10, 2004


August 10, 2004—Thai customs officials in Mae Sot yesterday seized 309 sacks of Burmese rice that were smuggled into the country illegally, said the Tak Province customs chief.



Klisada Thongthammachart said the rice was intercepted on the bank of the Moei River, which separates Thailand and Burma. He added that since April customs officials in Tak have confiscated more than one thousand sacks of rice worth an estimated half million baht (US $12,000) from Burma.


Thailand bans the import of Burmese rice, which is cheaper than Thai broken rice. Most of the smuggled grain goes to Thai rice noodle factories or to chicken and pig farms where the rice is used as feed.


Burmese rice traders on the border said they pay Thai officials to allow the rice to enter the country. Thai traders then carry the contraband grain to the interior provinces.


“But sometimes they [customs officials] don’t take our money and seize our rice instead,” said a Burmese trader, whose rice was confiscated yesterday. He also complained that Thai authorities often seize Burmese rice at the river as it enters the country but then allow Thai rice sellers to transport deeper inside Thailand without any problem.


“It is just to show that customs is preventing the smuggling of Burmese rice into Thailand,” he said.


Thailand officially restricts the import of basic goods from Burma such as rice, chili, onion, garlic and several varieties of beans. But earlier this year customs officials have allowed small amounts of restricted goods to enter the country to make up for shortfalls.


According to the customs official, from October 2003 to July 2004 Thailand exported 10,345 million baht worth of goods to Burma through the Mae Sot border crossing and imported 453 million baht worth of cattle, gems, seafood, wood and agricultural products.

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