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BANGKOK/DHAKA/MUMBAI: Vietnamese rice export prices rose this week from their lowest levels in more than a year as demand picked up after the government topped up its reserves and buyers held off on importing from India in the hope that surging shipping costs would ease.

Vietnam’s 5% broken rice rose to $400 per tonne from $385 two weeks earlier. The market was closed last week for the National Day holiday.

“The summer-autumn harvest is about to end, while domestic demand begins to pick up,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

“The government is also buying rice to top up the national reserves after it handed rice to residents affected by the lockdown,” the trader said.

Traders said the government has made efforts to facilitate the transport of rice in southern Vietnam following weeks of strict coronavirus curbs on movement.

Elsewhere, top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was unchanged this week at $358 to $363 per tonne.

“Buyers need to replenish stocks but are delaying purchases as they think current elevated freight rates could fall after some time,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, domestic rice prices dropped slightly after the government allowed private importers to import around 1.7 million tonnes.

“Apart from private imports, rice is also being imported through international tenders. We are very hopeful that the prices will go down further in the coming days,” Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum, secretary at the food ministry, told Reuters. “Traders are mostly buying rice from India through land ports,” a Dhaka-based trader said.

Elsewhere rates for Thailand’s 5% broken rice were little changed from the prior week at $380-$402 per tonne.

Bangkok-based traders said demand was quiet and a scarcity of ships arriving at Thai ports remained a challenge.

“Higher freight costs could drive buyers towards Vietnamese rice,” one trader said.

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