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Rice Export Prices Highest in 15 Years as India Restricts Trade

13.09.2023 07:25 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) According to the report of the USDA Grain: World Markets and Trade (September 2023), top rice exporter India has sent shockwaves through the global rice market since its July export ban on milled white rice and subsequent August export tax on parboiled rice and minimum export price for basmati. Global importers have shifted to the next largest suppliers, Thailand and Vietnam, sending their export quotes surging to the highest levels since 2008.

The absence of Indias white rice from the global market is far more significant now than it was 15 years ago. In 2008, prices spiked after India (then the second-largest exporter) placed a ban on non-basmati milled rice exports. After removing the ban in 2011, India expanded shipments and became the largest exporter the following year, a position it has since maintained. In 2022, India exported slightly more than the next four exporters combined, accounting for approximately 40 percent of global trade. India has consistently been the lowest-priced white rice supplier since 2020, particularly to Sub-Saharan Africa. The sharply higher rice prices are expected to particularly impact this import-dependent region.

Before the India ban, global prices had already been rising due to strong importer demand and lower production in several exporting countries. Indonesia has been a minor importer these past few years but is set to more than double its imports in 2023 as the government has authorized 2 million tons of imports. Thailand and Vietnam are the primary suppliers to that market, so their exports were already in high demand. Exportable supplies from Thailand and Vietnam are limited, with stocks forecast at the lowest level in several years. Neighboring Pakistan and Burma had lower production in 2022/23.

Despite the strong increase in export quotes, prices have not hit 2008 records for a few reasons. In 2008, India banned exports of both white rice and parboiled rice; it currently permits parboiled rice exports, albeit with a 20 percent tax. India has made some small government-to-government exceptions to the white rice ban thus far. In 2008, the third-largest exporter Vietnam also temporarily banned new sales, a major reason for further elevation in Thai prices; this year, Vietnam has continued exporting. In 2008, top importer the Philippines continuously bought larger volumes as prices escalated; this year, it is delaying purchases, awaiting lower prices. In the past week, prices started to decline from their peaks.

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