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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        16  February 2011

Indonesia imports Vietnamese rice

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Indonesia has bought 400,000 tons of 15 percent broken rice from Vietnam for March shipment after Thai exporters could not meet its loading requirements, traders said on Tuesday.

Last month the government announced it would secure 820,000 tons of rice from Thailand. Now, though, Vietnamese grain will make up nearly half that quantity.

One trader said the government may have secured the grain at $470 per ton, while the delivery terms at that price were not clear.

"Prices in Vietnam will still soften despite this deal because a major harvest is under way," one trader said.

State procurement agency Bulog has said it plans to increase rice stockpiles to 2 million tons by the end of 2011 through greater domestic procurement. Hatta Rajasa, the coordinating minister for the economy, said last week that the government had created new regulations allowing Bulog to buy rice of any quality.

Bulog must absorb at least 3.5 million tons of rice from farmers in order to meet demand and increase its stockpiles, he said.

"Indonesia is a very cautious player. Our estimate is that it will still need some 500,000 tons from the international market in the coming months," a trading manager in Singapore said.

Bulog spokesman Basirun refused comment when contacted.

Vietnam's first-quarter rice shipments are slated to reach between 1.6 million and 1.8 million tons, up at least 11 percent from a year ago, the Vietnam Agriculture newspaper said. Of its rice exports in the first quarter, 700,000 tons could be loaded this month. Shipments in March will reach between 400,000 tons and 500,000 tons, after 485,000 tons went out last month, the Vietnam Agriculture newspaper said.

Vietnam began cutting prices on Monday to attract import demand, down by between 3 and 4 percent the minimum prices required for its export grades.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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