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VIETNAM: India’s rice export prices rose this week on robust demand, with exporters also expecting a fillip from a reduction in domestic paddy freight charges, while Bangladesh planned to buy supplies from all three major Asian exporters.

Top exporter India’s 5 percent broken parboiled variety rose to $395-$401 per tonne from last week’s $393- $399.

Indian Railways has cut freight for paddy rice transportation by nearly 16% by changing loading norms, which would help exporters, said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association of India. “Exporters could save $3 to $4 per tonne due to revised freight charges. This would make Indian rice more competitive,” Rao said.

Bangladesh, which has emerged as a major buyer as it shores up flood-ravaged stocks, will buy 350,000 tonnes, including 150,000 tonnes each from India and Thailand and 50,000 tonnes from Vietnam, in state-to-state deals, a food ministry official said.

A trader in the Mekong Delta province in Vietnam said Bangladesh confirmed the purchase of 50,000 tonnes from Vietnam Southern Food Corp., and “we are expecting to sign new deals with Indonesia’s Bulog soon”.

Vietnam’s 5% broken rice eased to $500-$510 per tonne from $505-$510 from last week amid a strong harvest.

“Farmers in the Mekong provinces are enjoying a bumper crop, and domestic supplies are getting stronger,” a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said, adding that demand remained weak.

Another trader said they heard buyers were focusing on Indian rice with its significantly lower prices.

Thailand’s 5% broken rice dropped to $505-$515 a tonne, the lowest price since mid-December, from $515-$560 last week, due to a near 1% drop in the baht since the start of March, traders said.

On Tuesday, Thailand’s cabinet approved a draft agreement to resume government-to-government sales of rice to Indonesia after a previous deal expired in 2016.

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