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ASIA RICE-Bangladesh hunts deals; Thai exporters eye India's share

By Arpan Varghese

BENGALURU, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Major rice producers in Asia
could get a fresh demand boost as flood-hit Bangladesh continues
recent buying to shore up depleted stocks of the staple, while
Thailand looks to cash in on reduced output from top exporter
India.

Bangladesh is looking to buy more rice in inter-government
deals to ensure adequate stocks, a food ministry official said.

The state grains buyer plans to issue more international
tenders while it is still assessing average prices and other
details for a domestic tender to buy 200,000 tonnes of parboiled
rice, which closed on Tuesday.

"We are in talks to buy more rice from Vietnam," the
official said, adding the government was "desperately trying to
seal a deal with Thailand."

Thailand's benchmark 5-percent broken rice <RI-THBKN5-P1>
rose to $385-$390 a tonne, free-on-board (FOB) Bangkok, from the
$375-$385 range last week, amid prospects of an uptick in demand
and a possible deal with Iraq.

"There has been talk of Iraq buying Thai rice for a long
time. However, there hasn't been any agreement as yet," a trader
in Bangkok said.

Iraq is looking to import 30,000 tonnes of any origin.

Traders in Thailand were also optimistic that expectations
of lower exports from India this season would translate into
fresh demand for Thai rice.

"We do not expect India to import any rice despite the
expected fall in output. However, they may export less. This is
likely to create more demand from other rice producing countries
such as Thailand," said another Bangkok-based trader.

India's rice production from summer-sown crop is likely to
fall 2 percent to 94.48 million tonnes during the 2017-18
period, with production expected to take a hit from
lower-than-average rainfall.

India's 5 percent broken parboiled rice prices
<RI-INBKN5-P1> fell by $3 per tonne to the $402-$405 level this
week due to weak demand.

"Indian rice is not competitive due to higher prices.
Supplies from Thailand, Vietnam are much cheaper than India,"
said an exporter based in Kakinada in the southern state of
Andhra Pradesh.

In Vietnam, 5-percent broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> narrowed
slightly to $385-390 a tonne, FOB Saigon, from $385-$395 last
week, with the high price levels likely to prevail as the market
cools toward the end of the year, traders said.

"It's hard for prices to go down further, although some
traders hope for lower, more competitive prices. This is because
autumn-winter crop output declined, which affected supply," a
trader in Ho Chi Minh city said.
(Reporting by Mi Nguyen in Hanoi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai,
Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Suphanida Thakral in Bangkok, editing by
David Evans)

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