Thailand has signed a contract to export one million tons of rice to Bangladesh annually, prompting the Ministry of Commerce to subsequently project that Thai rice exports should total at least 9 million tons this year. Under the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Thai Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and Bangladesh authorities in Bangkok today, Thailand will export up to one million tons of rice worth over 16 billion baht (US$500 million) to Bangladesh annually in 2012 and 2013. However, Thai rice exports to Bangladesh can be varied within the agreed limit, depending on the situation of rice production in each country and world rice prices, TNA reported. The agreement is aimed to develop long-term rice trade cooperation between the two countries and to promote food security in Bangladesh, where demand for imported rice normally stands at one million tons annually. The deal also proves that demand for Thai rice has been maintained on the world market despite its higher prices, compared with those of India and Vietnam due to its recognised quality internationally. Last year, Thailand exported 736,782 tons of rice to Bangladesh. Thailand has also sealed agreements to export two million tons of rice to the Philippines and Indonesia yearly. Altogether, Thailand now has government-to-government deals to export three million tons of rice annually. During the first two months of this year, Thailand exported 985,700 tons of rice worth US$677 million (over 21 billion baht). The Thai commerce minister is scheduled to visit Vietnam later this month to discuss bilateral cooperation on rice trade.