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MUMBAI/HANOI/ BANGKOK: Export prices of rice from Thailand rose this week to their highest level in nearly two years on a stronger baht and sturdy demand, while Vietnam rates fell to a six-week low as activity slowed ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.

Thailand’s 5% broken rice rates rose from $480 per tonne last week to $495 per tonne on Thursday - its highest since March 2021 - helped by a strong baht and more regional demand, traders said.

“Prices are the highest in 3-4 years because of the strong baht and demand coming in from Indonesia,” said a Bangkok-based trader, adding prices could reach $500. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $445-$450 per tonne, free on board, down from $458 per tonne a week ago. “Trade is slow as the Lunar New Year holiday is nearing,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

“Exporters are focusing on delivery for the signed contracts,” the trader said, adding that domestic supplies are low after strong shipments in 2022.

Traders said the winter-spring harvest, the largest crop of the year, will begin in February and peak from mid-March.

Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $375-$382 per tonne, unchanged from last week. White rice prices in India rose to $398-$405 per tonne from $394-$400 per tonne a week ago on good demand.

“Buyers are giving preference to Indian rice despite export duty.

Indian supplies are at least $50 per tonne cheaper than other destinations,” said a New Delhi-based dealer with a global trading firm.

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