June 15, 2017 / 9:36 AM / a month ago

Asia Rice-Strong demand helps prices extend gains

4 Min Read

* Prices rise in Thailand, India, Vietnam

* Bangladesh seals import deal with Vietnam

By My Pham

VIETNAM, June 15 (Reuters) - Asian rice prices rose this week, extending gains from the week before on strong demand from importers including Bangladesh and the Philippines, traders said on Thursday.

In Thailand, benchmark 5-percent broken rice RI-THBKN5-P1 was quoted at $450-$457 a tonne, free-on-board (FOB) Bangkok, up from $440-$457 last week.

Thai rice prices have been rising steadily since March, when traders started loading ships, and touched levels unseen since August 2013 last week.

Exporters continue to buy the grain from rice millers to fulfill shipments, with demand from Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq and the Philippines keeping prices high, traders said.

"Prices are still rising and haven't stopped," a Bangkok-based trader said. "Supply is low and exporters are still buying stocks for shipment, and global demand is still high."

The Thai off-season crop is expected to arrive from around August to September.

In Vietnam, the 5-percent broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 was quoted at $410 a tonne, FOB Saigon, up from $395-$400 last week and the highest level since November 2014.

Vietnam's new harvest season begins late-June, traders said.

Rice prices in the country have increased since early May on expectation of stronger demand from foreign rice importers amid limited supply.

Bangladesh will import 200,000 tonnes of white rice at $430 a tonne, and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice at $470 a tonne from Vietnam in a government-to-government deal, said Ataur Rahman, additional secretary at the food ministry.

The rice will be shipped in 60 days, with the first consignment expected to arrive in 15 days, Rahman said.

The rates are sharply higher than what it is paying for through tenders. Bangladesh is buying 50,000 tonnes of white rice at $406.48 a tonne and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice at $427.85 a tonnes through tenders.

Bangladesh is also in talks with Thailand and India to import rice to cool record-high local prices at a time when state rice stocks are at 10-year lows.

The Philippines has said it would issue a tender next month to import 250,000 tonnes of the grain from Thailand and Vietnam, and possibly also India.

In India, 5 percent broken parboiled rice prices RI-INBKN5-P1 jumped by $7.00 per tonne to $422-$425 on a rally in overseas prices and good demand from buyers in Africa.

"Earlier, buyers were shifting to other suppliers as Indian rice was expensive. Now, since prices have risen in Thailand and Vietnam, we are equally competitive," said an exporter based in Kakinada in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

India's non-basmati rice exports in April fell 18.5 percent from a year ago to 475,050 tonnes due to a stronger rupee.

"We have to raise prices considering (the) rising rupee and tight supplies of paddy rice," said another exporter based in Kakinada.

The rupee has risen 5.7 percent so far in 2017 and is trading near its highest level in 21 months. A strong rupee trims returns for exporters. (Reporting by My Pham in HANOI, Patpicha Tanakasempipat in BANGKOK, Rajendra Jadhav in MUMBAI, and Ruma Paul in DHAKA; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

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