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Asia Rice: India rates dip, Thai traders eye new deals

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Rice export prices in India fell for a second week on sluggish demand, while rates in Thailand were propped up by lower supply and expectations of new orders from Philippines, Indonesia and Japan.

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

Top exporter India’s 5 percent broken parboiled variety was quoted around $367-$373 per tonne this week, down from $370-$374 last week.

“Some demand is there, but not much ... Millers are now waiting for new crop arrivals to offer,” said Nitin Gupta, business head of rice at Olam India. Supplies from summer-sown crop will become available for exports from next month, dealers said.

Indian production of summer-sown rice is estimated to grow 1.8 percent to 99.24 million tonnes.

“The falling rupee is (however) making Indian exports more competitive than Thailand and Vietnam,” said M. Adishankar, executive director at Sri Lalitha, a leading rice exporter in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The rupee plumbed record lows on Thursday, having shed more than 13 percent this year, allowing exporters to lower their offers.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, merchants are refraining from making any new import deal, a trader said.

“Importing rice is not profitable anymore, given the huge tax.”

In June, Bangladesh, which had emerged as a major importer in 2017 after floods damaged crops, imposed a 28 percent tax on rice imports to support its farmers after local production revived.

In Thailand, benchmark 5 percent broken rice prices were quoted at $390–$403 per tonne, free on board (FOB) Bangkok, versus $395–$398 last week.

The marginal change in prices, especially at the higher end, was driven by speculation about deals with countries including Philippines and disaster-hit Indonesia and Japan, traders said.

Lower supplies, with new harvests expected only in November and December, are also propping up prices, another rice trader said.

“There are talks of a major deal from the Philippines, so many exporters are buying and storing rice.”

In Vietnam, prices of the 5 percent broken rice were unchanged at $400-$405 a tonne, as weak demand due to a week-long Chinese holiday offset any impact from a fall in supply after the country’s two major crops ended, traders said.

Cheaper Thai rice also hurt commercial demand for the Vietnamese variety, traders said, but buying could pick up next week, especially due to deals with Philippines.

The Philippines’ state agency National Food Authority has issued a new international tender to purchase up to 250,000 tonnes of rice, European traders said last week.

Vietnam is expected to undergo a mini harvest later this month and in November, but output is seen half of the major harvests earlier this year.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Mai Nguyen in Hanoi and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; editing by David Evans