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Demand for Thai rice surges as India, Vietnam tighten supplies
02 | 11 | 2007
Global rice prices have risen 10-15%, compared with the same time a year ago, reflecting strong demand but relatively lower availability
Thai exporters will be making aggressive offers to sell their rice over the next few months on tightening world supplies, even as a strengthening local currency is unlikely to discourage overseas sales.

Thai suppliers are seeing a flood of enquiries for its rice cargoes as a ban on exports by India and limited availability from Vietnam have added to the strained supply chain.

"The Indian ban has turned the spotlight on Thailand," said Chookiat Ophaswong, president, Thai Rice Exporters Association.

Global rice prices have risen 10-15%, compared with the same time a year ago, reflecting strong demand but relatively lower availability.

In the first two weeks of this month, following India's export ban, Thai rice exports surged 84% to 418,000 tonnes from 227,000 tonnes in the whole of October last year. Thai rice exports in the January-September period were up 16.7% to 6.6 million tonnes (mt). For the full year, Thai rice exports could rise more than 13% to 8.5mt from last year's 7.5mt, industry and government officials said.

"I'm confident that we could achieve our goal of 8.5mt this year and would export more next year as demand remains strong," Thai commerce minister Krikkrai Jirapaet said.

India, struggling to rein in rising food prices, banned export of some grades of rice earlier this month to ensure it had enough for its more than one billion people following flood damage to its rice crop.

This could rob the world market of more than 1mt of rice, which the country could have exported by the end of this year.

India exported around 4mt last year. New Delhi has not said how long the ban would last, although the government has lifted the ban on exporting some superior varieties.

Vietnam earlier this month lowered its rice export target for this year to 4.4mt from 4.5mt to boost reserves after severe flooding raised supply concerns.

Between January and September, the value of Thai rice exports rose around 25% from the same period last year, reflecting higher world prices, supported by strong demand and the Thai baht's appreciation, according to commerce ministry data.

Prices are likely to rise further as the baht, which has risen more than 6% against the dollar so far this year, puts pressure on exporters to quote higher prices in a bid to offset currency losses.

Intellasia News Online
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