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Thailand aims to boost exports; India rates dip on fresh supply

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Rice prices were relatively stable in Thailand this week as the country aims to attract more foreign buyers to boost exports, while prices in India slipped amid increasing supplies from the new season’s crop.

A man works in a rice field in Khon Kaen, Thailand July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Panu Wongcha-um/Files

Thailand’s benchmark 5-percent broken rice was quoted at $382-$386 a tonne, free-on-board (FOB) Bangkok, which compared with $375-$388 a tonne last week.

The country has exported 8.23 million tonnes of rice since January to September this year, according to Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce, who have a target to reach 11 million tonnes in exports by the end of the year.

The Ministry of Commerce aims to host an event that would bring more than 200 foreign buyers to negotiate with 100 Thai entrepreneurs. The ministry expects that after the event 586 million baht worth of rice will be ordered immediately and orders worth another 30 billion baht will follow within a year.

“I think 8.23 million tonnes is already a success as every year it is around this much,” said a Bangkok-based rice trader.

“The ministry is trying to boost exports in the final quarter of the year. However, personally, I don’t think it’s possible.”

Meanwhile India’s 5 percent broken parboiled rice prices fell by $2 per tonne to $400-$403 per tonne as supplies from a new season crop were starting to pick up in some spot markets.

“We are getting inquiries from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh but they are quoting low prices,” said an exporter based in Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Bangladesh, which has become a major importer this year after floods hit its crops, has imported more than 1.4 million tonnes of rice in the July-October period, the country’s food ministry data showed.

Traders and officials in Bangladesh expect more imports in the coming months as domestic rice prices are still high, which poses a problem for the government.

India’s rice exports during April-August rose 7.4 percent from a year earlier, to 5.13 million tonnes, as shipments of non-basmati rice surged. The country mainly exports non-basmati rice to African countries and premier basmati rice to the Middle East.

Iran’s state grains buyer GTC has issued an international invitation to tender to buy 30,000 tonnes of rice to be sourced from India for shipment in early 2018, European traders said on Wednesday.

In Vietnam drying rice stockpiles kept the price for the benchmark 5-percent broken rice unchanged from last week at as high as $405 per tonne, FOB Saigon, discouraging buyers from clinching new deals.

“We couldn’t sell much because our prices are around $20-30 higher than Thailand. Importers came to negotiate with us but in the end no new contracts were made,” a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Rice traders expected that the market would stay quiet on thin trading until January, despite new supply from the upcoming harvest of autumn-winter crops.

A monthly government report last Sunday showed Vietnam would have shipped an estimated 400,000 tonnes of rice in October, down from 516,000 tonnes in September.

Reporting by Suphanida Thakral in Bangkok, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Mi Nguyen in Hanoi and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Editing by Greg Mahlich