* Plans to import 600,000 T of rice soon amid low stocks
* To keep tariffs on private imports to protect farmers
* Vietnamese prices hit 13 month high on export hopes
(Adds global prices, details)
By Ruma Paul
DHAKA, May 25 Bangladesh will speed up plans to
import rice to build reserves and rein in local prices after
flash floods hit domestic output, government officials said on
As part of that, a Bangladeshi delegation is now in Vietnam
to finalise imports of the staple grain in a
government-to-government deal, said a procurement official,
declining to be identified as he was not authorised to speak
with media. He did not give further details on the transaction.
Ramped up demand from Bangladesh, the world's fourth-biggest
rice producer, could underpin prices in major exporters Vietnam,
Thailand and India.
"We are making frantic efforts to boost state reserves and
bring down prices of rice," said the procurement official.
Local rice prices have reached record highs and state
reserves are at six-year lows in the wake of flooding in April
that wiped out around 700,000 tonnes of output.
The state grains buyer earlier this month said it would ship
in 600,000 tonnes of rice after the flooding, initially issuing
two tenders for a total of 100,000 tonnes of rice, its first
such tenders since 2011.
Meanwhile, the procurement official said the government had
decided not to withdraw duty on private rice imports, looking to
Vietnamese rice prices this week hit their highest in over a
year on expectations of strong demand from top importing
countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines.
Bangladesh wants to buy around 250,000 to 300,000 tonnes of
Vietnam's 5-percent white rice immediately and plans to increase
rice imports from Vietnam to 500,000 tonnes by end of 2017,
Vietnam's trade ministry said.
Vietnam's 5-percent broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 was quoted at
$360-$380 a tonne FOB Saigon, up from $365-$370 last week and
the highest since April last year, as suppliers eyed export
deals, traders said.
Traders and officials say Bangladesh could emerge as a major
importer of rice this year. It was ranked as the fourth-largest
importer of the grain by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in
Since then, the Bangladesh government has not imported rice
although private traders have done, mostly from India.
Bangladesh produces around 34 million tonnes of rice
annually but uses almost all its production to feed its
population of 160 million. It often requires imports to cope
with shortages caused by natural calamities such as floods and
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Joseph Radford and Mark