WORLD RICE SITUATION AND OUTLOOK
The forecast for world rice trade in 1998 is raised 625,000 tons this month, to a record 22.2 million tons. The market in Asia continues to focus on heavy loadings for Indonesia and the Philippines, and prices continued their upward movement throughout April and into early May. Thai quotes moved up about $20/MT for most grades. Viet quotes have not been available for most of the month, as the market is oversold and restrictions have been placed on new export sales. Asias concentration on Indonesia and the Philippines has led to an increase in the pace of exports out of India, particularly to Africa. Meanwhile, the U.S. market has firmed in response to weather-related production declines in Latin America.
The 1998 rice export forecasts for Argentina, Uruguay, and Guyana are lowered in response to declines in estimated production. Heavy rains and flooding have lowered production expectations in Argentina and Uruguay, and in Guyana, dry weather during the first part of year has reduced that countrys first crop. As a result, the export forecast for Argentina is lowered by 150,000 tons, Uruguay by 75,000 tons, and Guyana by 50,000 tons.
The decline in Latin American production is expected to translate into increased exports to the region by the United States. Therefore, the U.S. export forecast is revised upward to 3 million tons.
The forecast for 1998 exports by India is raised to 2.2 million tons. The record world demand and strong international rice prices have led to an increase in the pace of Indias non-basmati exports. Also, Indian stocks have been revised this month to reflect a gradual draw-down in stock levels.
Japan recently announced plans to provide 500,000 tons of rice to Indonesia. The 1998 Japanese export forecast is increased accordingly. The rice, which will come from Japans huge stockpile, will be provided to Indonesia through a new aid program. The donation is expected to include both domestic rice and rice imported under Japans Uruguay Round Minimum Market Access commitment.
The 1998 import forecast for Brazil is raised to 1.2 million tons in response to an expected drop in production.
The import forecast for the Philippines was also increased due to a decline in forecast production. 1998 Philippine imports are now expected to reach 1.5 million tons.
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