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Asia Rice: India rates rise on higher local prices; Thai-Vietnam output seen surging

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Rice export prices in India rose this week due to a rally in local rates, while Thai and Vietnam prices are expected to drop in the coming weeks with fresh supplies hitting the market.

Women plant rice saplings at a paddy field in a village in Nagaon district, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, July 3, 2018. Picture taken July 3, 2018. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika

India’s 5 percent broken parboiled variety was quoted around $382-$387 per tonne this week, compared with $376-$383 last week.

“In last few weeks demand is weak as Indian rice has become expensive,” said M. Adishankar, executive director at Sri Lalitha, a rice exporter in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Export prices in India had shot up earlier after Chhattisgarh, a leading rice producing state in central India, raised the minimum paddy buying price.

In Thailand, benchmark 5-percent broken rice prices narrowed to $390-$400 range, free on board Bangkok, from $380-$400 last week due to the baht’s strength against the U.S. dollar.

Traders said prices remained relatively unchanged due to flat demand, but expected a surge in supply between January-end to early February, which could affect prices.

The market was looking for possible buying from the Philippines, which imported from Thailand last year, a Bangkok-based trader said.

Meanwhile, rates for Vietnam’s 5 percent broken rice stayed flat from last week at $370-$375 a tonne, and traders expect prices to fall in the coming weeks on rising supplies and weak demand.

“Some of the farmers in the Mekong Delta have started harvesting their winter-spring crop and the harvest in expected to peak after Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Rice exports from Vietnam are expected to witness a quiet year in 2019, Nguyen Ngoc Nam, chairman of the Vietnam Food Association, told Reuters on Thursday.

“We haven’t received new orders for this year and our potential clients haven’t made any move to make new purchases,” Nam said.

China’s move to tighten control on rice shipments from Vietnam will put a brake on Vietnam’s rice exports, the Ho Chi Minh City-based trader said, adding that the Southeast Asian country had not worked out any effective measures to cope with the situation.

“Some exporters are looking to trade rice for cashew nuts from Africa, but it’s not clear yet how it will fare.”

Meanwhile, a report from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimated Bangladesh’s rice output will hit a record 53.6 million tonnes in 2018, due to strong domestic prices and bumper yields due to favourable weather conditions.

Bangladesh, which emerged as a major importer of the grain in 2017 after floods damaged crops, imported a record 3.9 million tonnes of rice in the last financial year that ended in June 2018.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu