Asia rice - Vietnam prices hit 14-wk high, Thailand struggles to sell

Asia rice - Vietnam prices hit 14-wk high, Thailand struggles to sell

BANGKOK - Fresh demand from China and the Philippines has pushed Vietnamese rice prices to 14-week highs, traders said.

But Thailand's announcement that it could start shipping rice from its huge stockpiles to China by early 2014 had little impact on Thai prices, which remained steady.

Vietnamese 5-percent broken rice edged up to $400-$408 a tonne on a free on board basis - rising from last week's $400-405 and the highest since July 17.

The country's 25-percent broken rice climbed to $373-$375 a tonne, from $350-$360 a week ago.

"Rice deals with China and the Philippines have pushed domestic rice prices up as well as export prices," said a trader in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam has signed contracts to sell 120,000 tonnes of rice to private companies in the Philippines, while sales across the border to China have also been rising, which have in turn pushed up export prices by 10 percent in recent weeks.

In contrast, Thai rice prices remained unchanged even as the government said it had agreed to sell 1 million tonnes of rice per year to China.

The price of 5-percent broken grade Thai white rice was offered unchanged at $410 a tonne, traders said.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said earlier this month that China would support plans by domestic firms to buy a million tonnes a year for an indefinite period, an increase on an earlier commitment to take the same volume over five years.

Traders had reacted with some scepticism as they saw no evidence to back up earlier government claims to have sold significant amounts to China and other countries.

With uncompetitive high prices due to Thailand's intervention scheme, Thai exporters said they could sell only small lots of around 5,000-10,000 tonnes of parboiled rice to traditional clients in Africa.

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