July 16, 2020 / 12:36 PM / 23 days ago

Asia Rice-Thai rates hit 4-month low on weak demand, baht

* Fresh supplies could push prices further down- Thai trader

* Vietnamese traders expect rise in rice shipments to Europe

* India rates steady as farmers expand cultivation area

* Flood hits cultivation in Bangladesh

By Shreyansi Singh

BENGALURU, July 16 (Reuters) - Thai rice export prices dipped to an over four-month low this week due to lack of buyers and weakening of the baht, while strong demand from Cuba and Malaysia pushed Vietnamese rates to a near one-month high.

Thailand’s benchmark 5-percent broken rice RI-THBKN5-P1 prices dropped to $440–$455 on Thursday, the lowest since late-February, from $455-$485 quoted last week.

Thai rates were also weighed down by expectations of fresh supply of rice early next month.

“With no buyers now, the injection of new supply could push down the price further,” a trader said.

In Vietnam, rates for 5-percent broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 rose to $435-$457 per tonne, the highest since June 18, from $425-$457 a week earlier.

“Strong demand from Cuba and Malaysia have pushed prices up a bit,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

“However, trading activity has slowed down this week as some buyers are waiting for prices to go down in anticipation of increased supplies from the ongoing harvest that will end early next month.”

Traders expect an increase in rice shipments to Europe after a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the European Union takes effect from August 1, while the EU’s imposition of an annual quota will prevent a sharp rise in exports.

Rates for India’s 5-percent broken parboiled variety RI-INBKN5-P1 were unchanged at $377-$382 per tonne, as farmers expand acreage of the summer-sown paddy crop.

“Demand is moderate. Rising cases of coronavirus in Asia and Africa is a big concern. It could create logistical problems for buyers and sellers,” said an exporter based at Kakinada, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Indian farmers have planted rice on 12 million hectares as of July 10, up 26% from a year earlier, government data showed.

Bangladesh will make a decision over cutting taxes on rice imports by the end of this month, food ministry officials said.

Floods also hit cultivation in Bangladesh, farmers said, submerging tracts of land. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Khanh Vu in Hanoi and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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