July 23, 2020 / 1:22 PM / 15 days ago

Asia Rice-Thai rates rise; virus outbreak raises concerns for Indian exporters

* Thai rice exporters cut 2020 forecast to lowest in 20 years

* Demand from China expected to rise - Vietnamese trader

* Floods submerge farm land in Bangladesh

By Shreyansi Singh

BENGALURU, July 23 (Reuters) - Thai rice export prices gained this week as inconsistent rainfall stoked supply concerns, while the worsening coronavirus pandemic posed logistical problems for exporters in India.

Thailand’s benchmark 5-percent broken rice RI-THBKN5-P1 prices widened to $450–$482 a tonne, from $440–$455 last week.

“We expect lower supply this year,” said a Bangkok-based trader, adding that rice millers are holding on to stocks and hiking prices.

Thailand’s rice exporters association on Wednesday slashed its forecast for 2020 exports to 6.5 million tonnes, the lowest in two decades, citing drought and uncompetitive prices.

“But prices might come down if it rains a lot,” another trader said.

Top exporter India’s 5-percent broken parboiled variety RI-INBKN5-P1 was unchanged at $377-$382 per tonne, while farmers expanded cultivation area under the summer-sown paddy crop.

Rising cases of coronavirus in and around Kakinada port in southern state of Andhra Pradesh, which handles a majority of rice shipments from India, could create logistical problems for exporters, said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association.

“Demand is more or less stable from African and Asian buyers.”

In Vietnam, rates for 5-percent broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 narrowed to $440-$450 from $435-$457 per tonne last week.

“Trading activity has been slow as demand from traditional buyers remain weak,” a Ho Chi Minh City-based said.

Preliminary shipping data showed 169,100 tonnes of rice will be loaded at the Ho Chi Minh City port between July 1 and July 31, with most of it heading to Africa, Cuba, Timor-Leste and Malaysia.

Another trader in Ho Chi Minh said demand from China could increase due to the flooding there.

Bangladesh is grappling with a double whammy of the pandemic and the worst floods in recent years.

The country could be faced with a huge loss of paddy as vast swathes of land have been submerged, agriculture ministry officials said. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Khanh Vu in Hanoi and Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok; editing by Arpan Varghese and Amy Caren Daniel)

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