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SINGAPORE: Asia rice-High shipping costs, weak baht drag Thai rates to over 2-year low. Vietnam rice exports down 12.7% so far this year. Bangladesh likely to reduce duty on rice imports.

Indian farmers planted rice on 31mn hectares as of Aug 6. Export prices of rice from Thailand slid to their lowest in more than two years this week due to a weak baht and high shipping costs, while sluggish demand kept India rates near 4-1/2 year lows for a second straight week.

Thailand's 5% broken rice fell to $380-$395 per tonne on Thursday, their lowest since April 2019, from $385- $410 per tonne a week ago, amid flat demand, traders said. "As the baht softens, the prices continue to decline but there is no demand partly because the shipping cost is high," a Bangkok-based trader said.

Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety rice prices were unchanged at $354 to $358 per tonne. "Buyers are taking a pause since prices are correcting," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Indian farmers this year have planted paddy rice on 31 million hectares as of Aug. 6, versus 31.9 million hectares last year.

Neighbouring Bangladesh, meanwhile, is likely to reduce the duty on rice imports to rein in rising prices, officials said, with prices having jumped around 4% this week from the same period last month. A record summer crop and hefty imports have yet to fill the backlog caused by repeat floods last year that destroyed crops and forced Bangladesh, traditionally the world's third-biggest producer, to ramp up imports.

Prices of Vietnam's 5% broken rice meanwhile were also unchanged at $390 per tonne. "Export activities remain slow amid weak demand and logistics difficulties due to the corona virus-related movement restrictions," a trader in An Giang province said.

Domestic paddy prices have picked up in recent days after the government said it would consider stockpiling rice to support farmers, traders said.

Vietnam's rice exports in the first seven months of 2021 fell 12.7% year-on-year to 3.5 million tonnes.

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