ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Indonesia to Import Rice
Traders and market watchers say the purchases, along with surprise imports by China and the massive flooding in Pakistan, are raising concerns about the rising prices of rice at a time when other grain prices have also risen sharply.
This has stoked fears of serious food inflation.
Indonesia and the Philippines, the world's top rice importer, are looking to buy more than 2.2 million tonnes of rice from Vietnam, a newspaper reported on Friday.
The Vietnam Economic Times newspaper said Indonesia was looking to import 700,000 tonnes, in addition to the 500,000 tons reported earlier this week.
According to the newspaper, the Philippines wants to buy between 1 million and 1.5 million tonnes of rice.
Sutarto Alimoeso, Bulog's president director, confirmed reports that Bulog was preparing to buy large amounts of rice from Vietnam and Thailand.
However, he cited amounts that conflicted with reports from traders and government agencies in those countries.
"We are exploring the possibility of importing 300,000 tonnes from both Vietnam and Thailand and the process is nearly finished," he said, when asked about the import figure cited by the Vietnam Economic Times.
Rice is Indonesia's most important staple and the country has been self-sufficient for the last two years. It last shipped in 1.2 million tons of white rice for consumption in 2007, mostly from Vietnam and Thailand.
Indonesia, the world's third-largest rice producer, imports small amounts of specialty rice every year.
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