WORLD RICE SITUATION AND OUTLOOK
The forecast for world rice trade in 1998 is raised 1.1 million tons this month, to a record 23.3 million tons. The increase is led by a 1 million ton upward revision in the import forecast for Indonesia. Global production, consumption, and ending stocks are also revised upward. The 1997/98 production estimate is increased 4.25 million tons (rough basis) since last month, largely due to substantial upward revisions for China and India. Huge crops and strong world demand have allowed these two countries to emerge as major exporters.
Despite the continued high level of trade, Asian prices remained relatively steady throughout May and into early June. Thai prices rose in late May on sales to Iran and Brazil, only to fall back on weakening of the baht. As of early June, Thai 100B was quoted near $330 per ton. After being out of the market since mid-April, Vietnam recently began quoting prices again, with 5 percent being quoted at around $300 per tons. Limited new sales are expected in June.
The 1998 rice export forecast for China is raised to 2.5 million tons in response to an increase in estimated production. Successive years of bumper rice crops have left China with ample supplies to help meet Southeast Asian demand for lower quality rice.
The forecast for 1998 exports by India is increased to 2.5 million tons. India has recently seen strong exports of non-basmati rice to Bangladesh and Africa.
The 1998 export forecast for Australia is increased to 700,000 tons due to an increase in the 1997/98 production estimate.
The 1998 import forecast for Indonesia is increased to 5 million tons. Bulog has had difficulty in procuring domestic supplies, and recently returned to the international market for additional imports.
The forecast for 1998 imports by Bangladesh is doubled this month, to 1 million tons. A shortfall in the 1997/98 fall harvested crop and subsequent increase in prices has prompted heavy purchases of Indian rice.
The estimate for 1997 imports by Iran is lowered to 875,000 tons, and the 1998 import forecast is lowered to 800,000 tons on slower than expected imports.
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