Off The Wire
Asia Rice-Bangladesh in new deal talks, Indian prices rise again
By Nguyen Mi and Ruma Paul
HANOI/DHAKA, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Bangladesh is in talks to import rice from Myanmar, the food ministry said on Thursday, after plans to import rice from Thailand and India suffered a setback due to high prices.
Bangladesh, the world's fourth-biggest rice producer, has emerged as a major importer of rice this year due to depleted stocks and record high local prices following flash floods.
"We are in talks with Myanmar to import rice in a government-to-government deal," Badrul Hasan, head of Bangladesh's State Grains buyer, told Reuters.
Hasan said an Indian state agency was also in talks to sell rice to Bangladesh after a previous attempt fell through because of high prices.
Bangladesh also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Thursday with Thailand to import up to 1 million tonnes of rice every year till 2021.
"The price will be determined in line with the prices in the global markets after a negotiation between the two countries," Bangladeshi Food Minister Kamrul Islam told reporters, after signing the deal in Dhaka.
Prices in India rose as the rupee climbed but dipped in Thailand due to upcoming white rice supply.
In India, 5 percent broken parboiled rice prices rose $3 per tonne to $412 from $409 as the appreciating rupee forced traders to raise prices despite weak demand.
India's non-basmati rice exports are likely to slow over the next few months as its shipments of the grain have become too expensive on the world market due to the rally in the rupee and an increase in local paddy prices. The Indian rupee has risen more than 6.5 percent so far in 2017 to its highest in more than two years.
"New season paddy supplies will become available only from October onwards. Until then Indian prices are likely to remain firm," said a New Delhi based dealer.
Thai benchmark 5 percent broken rice was quoted at $385-$387 a tonne, free-on-board (FOB) in Bangkok, down from $390-$392 a tonne last week.
Thai traders said the slight drop in price could be attributed to incoming off-season white rice which is being harvested from mid-August through to September.
Thailand has been hit by floods in the north and northeast since July but traders said there had been minimal impact on rice export so far. The government has said the floods are unlikely to affect Thailand's export target and it is expecting the country to export 11 million tonnes of rice this year. In Vietnam, the price range for benchmark 5 percent broken rice widened to $395-$405 a tonne, FOB Saigon, ending a three-week flat trend. Traders were unsure if the prices would fall further.
"If companies ask to buy or foreign demand increases considerably, the prices will soar," a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.
Vietnamese rice suppliers are completing delivery of 175,000 tonnes of rice to Philippines between August and September. Other deals being delivered include 200,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh, which is expected to complete by mid August.
Thailand and Vietnam are the world's second and third biggest rice exporters.
(Reporting by Mi Nguyen in Hanoi, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; editing by David Clarke)