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7 May 2009

Vietnam slashes prices of rice exports

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Vietnam has cut the floor price for its top export quality 5 percent broken rice to between $430 and $440 a ton from $460 after it lifted export restrictions, Reuters quoted an industry official as saying Wednesday.

The floor for 25 percent broken rice remained at $400 a ton, free-on-board basis, unchanged since Feb. 26 when the Vietnam Food Association last adjusted the price floors, said the official, who declined to be named.

Late last month Vietnam's food industry and government trade officials agreed to allow rice exporters to resume talks to sign new deals, effectively lifting curbs in place since February.

The food association had said in late February it would only allow new contracts for shipment from July to September, after exporters had signed contracts totaling 3.7 million tons for the first half of 2009.

"After the authorities checked and balanced supply and demand, exporters can now strike new deals," the official said by telephone from Ho Chi Minh City. He did not say if the food association had imposed limits on the volume of new contracts.

Vietnam, the world's second-largest rice exporter after Thailand, is forecast to export 5.2 million tons of rice this year, up from 4.65 million tons in 2008, the US Department of Agriculture said.

Traders said the floor price had been cut to attract buyers who had turned to buying rice from other origins after Vietnam imposed the export restrictions. They said exporters' quotations this week were largely based on the floor set by the food association.

Farmers in Vietnam's Mekong Delta have completed harvesting the winter-spring rice crop, with a bumper output of 9.5 million tons of paddy, up from 9.3 million tons in the crop last year, industry officials said.

Paddy prices remained stable at between 4,000 and 4,600 dong (22.5-25.9 U.S. cents) per kilogram thanks to busy shipping schedules at Vietnam's main ports, mostly in the country's south.

The food association estimated Vietnam would load 3.4-3.5 million tons in the first half. Shipments between January and April totaled 2.3 million tons, leaving up to 1.2 million tons to be loaded in May and June.

Most of the Vietnamese rice loaded so far this year went to the Philippines, Cuba and several African countries.




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