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BENGALURU: Export prices of rice in India rose this week on strong rupee and higher demand from rival nations, while increasing prices in Thailand raised worries about losing out to other Asian competitors. Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $383-$390 per tonne this week, up from last week's $381-$387.

"We are raising prices considering the appreciation in rupee," said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India's biggest rice exporter, adding prices remain competitive even after the price hike. The Indian rupee jumped to a 4-month high this week, trimming traders' margin from overseas sales.

Bangladesh approved to buy 150,000 tonnes of rice from India's state-run firm NAFED, officials said. Dhaka's rice imports are likely to surge to 2 million tonnes in 2020/21, a senior government official said. Vietnam also started buying the grain from India for the first time in decades after local prices jumped to their highest in nine years.

Vietnamese 5% broken rice rates were unchanged from last week at $500-$505 per tonne.

"Trade is very slow because of low domestic supplies," a trader based in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang said, adding that buyers are awaiting harvest of the year's largest rice crop.

The country's winter-spring harvest will peak late in February or early-March, traders said. Thailand's benchmark 5% broken rice prices rose to $515-$520 per tonne this week from last week's $510-$516.

Demand for Thai rice has not picked up largely due to strong baht, which has lead to higher export prices than offers by Vietnam and India, Bangkok-based traders said.

Traders are anticipating sales to get harder with fresh supplies coming in Vietnamese markets that could lower their prices, while Thailand already passed its output peak for 2020/21 in November.

However, there has been healthy demand for Thailand's premium jasmine fragrant rice, exporters said. The global rice market is grappling with logistical disruptions at major supply ports caused by a lack of shipping containers.