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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs       8  February 2011

Sugar, wheat prices may rise

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Soft commodities like sugar and wheat may continue to see strong price gains this year as supply takes a hit from recent flooding in Australia.

Analysts said half the sugar production potential of Australia's key cane growing districts in Queensland may have been lost to cyclone Yasi.

As countries step up imports of food commodities to quell high food prices and rising unrest, wheat prices may also continue to rise.

Australia is the world's third biggest sugar exporter after Thailand.

As the country grapples with widespread damage following harsh weather conditions, analysts said the price of sugar could head towards 40 US cents a pound, versus the current 30-year high of 35 cents.

Higher prices could also continue as it is likely to take as long as two years for Australia to resume its full output capacity.

Wheat is also seen heading higher due not only to supply disruptions in Queensland, but also rising imports from other countries.

The unrest in Egypt, that started partly due to rising prices of food, could result in Egypt increasing imports to temper escalating food prices.

Egypt is the world's biggest wheat importer.

Analysts said wheat could reach US$11 a bushel by the end of the first quarter from around US$8.60 currently.

But oil prices, which have rallied on tensions in the Middle East, are not seen heading higher in the near term.

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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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