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BENGALURU/BANGKOK/HANOI/MUMBAI/DHAKA: Rice export prices declined in top Asian hubs this week, with rates in Vietnam falling to a more than five-month low as sales dipped, while a weak rupee and easing demand dragged India rates.

Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $395 per tonne on Thursday, compared with $395 to $405 two weeks ago. The Vietnamese market was closed last week for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Traders said sales remain slow after the holiday and is unlikely to pick up until the end of the first quarter.

“The Philippines and China are expected to be Vietnam’s largest rice export markets this year,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said, adding that China’s rising demand could be an opportunity for Vietnamese exporters.

Vietnam exported 505,741 tonnes of rice worth $246 million in January, government data released on Thursday showed.

Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety fell to a four-week low of $368 to $374 per tonne this week, from last week’s $370 to $376. The Indian rupee slipped to a near two-week low, increasing traders’ margin from overseas sales.

Demand was weak from all key buyers for white rice as other countries were offering rice at a competitive price, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Bangladesh may reduce import duty on rice by 10% to cool the prices of the staple grain, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said. The existing import duty on rice in the country is nearly 62.5%.

Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices were quoted at $407 to $415 per tonne this week, slightly lower than the $408 to $417 quoted last week, due to the fluctuation in the exchange rate, traders said.

One Bangkok-based rice trader said that market activities have been slowing down so the prices have not shifted too much from the week before.

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