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MUMBAI/HANOI/ BANGKOK: Prices of rice in major exporter Thailand climbed to about a four-month high this week, while Vietnam rates steadied near their best level in over a year, buoyed by increasing orders mainly from neighbouring countries.

Rice output in Asia is set to climb this year as higher prices spur farmers to expand acreage, easing supply concerns after production suffered its first decline in seven years in 2022.

The world’s third-largest rice exporter, Vietnam saw a 23.4% jump in shipments from a year earlier to 1.85 million tonnes in the first four months of 2023, according to government customs data. They rose 80% from March to 961,608 tonnes in April.

“Trading activity is robust as exporters are pushing their purchases to fill signed contracts,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said. Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh told Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr at a regional meeting that Vietnam was willing to supply rice to the Philippines for the long term at reasonable prices. Philippines is Vietnam’s largest buyer.

Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $485-$495 per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from a week ago yet close to highs last seen in April 2021.

In Thailand, the 5% broken rice prices rose to their highest since January at $498-$500 per tonne, from last week’s $485. Traders attributed the rise in prices to increasing demand in the region, including from Indonesia, and a strengthening baht. A stronger domestic currency makes exports from the country expensive in dollar terms.

India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was unchanged from last week at $376-$380 per tonne, when prices fell to their lowest since December. “Demand is weak. Supplies from the winter crop are also getting delayed because of untimely rainfall in the last few weeks,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

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