WORLD RICE SITUATION AND OUTLOOK
The forecast for global rice trade in 1998 is increased 600,000 tons this month, to a record 25.5 million tons. Despite the heavy trade volume, Asian price quotes declined throughout October and early November as new bookings have been scarce and harvest of the main crop in Thailand provides additional downward pressure. Quotes for Thai 100B fell to $277 per ton during the first week of November, the lowest level quoted for that grade since last December. Quotes from Vietnam also softened during the month, with quotes for Viet 5 down about $10 per ton, to $285 per ton during the first week of November. For most grades, Thai quotes dropped below those for comparable Vietnamese rice.
The trade projection for calendar year 1999 is raised this month to 21 million tons, a 600,000 ton increase since last month. The higher trade projection is primarily due to increases in the export forecast for China, as well as Japans announcement of plans to provide 400,000 tons of rice as food aid to Indonesia. Half of the aid is expected to come from Japans stocks, and the other half purchased from the international market.
The 1998 and 1999 export forecasts for China are each raised based on continued strong exports and forward commitments. The increase brings the 1998 estimate to 3.3 million tons, and the 1999 forecast to 1.25 million tons.
The 1998 export estimate for Thailand is trimmed back 100,000 tons this month, to 6.1 million tons, due to uncertainty surrounding key contracts with Indonesia.
The 1998 export forecast for Guyana is increased to 250,000 tons, and the 1999 forecast is raised to 300,000 tons due to increased production.
The 1999 forecast for rice exports from Japan is increased 200,000 tons this month (to 400,000 tons) on the announcement by the Government of Japan to provide additional food aid to Indonesia.
The 1998 import forecast for Indonesia is raised to 5.9 million tons. The 1999 import forecast is also revised upward (to 2 million tons) as additional food aid commitments from a number of international donors has been secured in recent weeks.
The 1998 and 1999 import forecasts for the Philippines are each increased this month. The import estimate for 1998 is revised upward 200,000 tons, to 2.2 million tons. The forecast for 1999 imports is increased to 1.2 million tons due to a decline in production as a result of recent typhoon damage.
The 1998 and 1999 import forecasts for Iran have been lowered to 500,000 tons and 650,000 tons, respectively. Low oil prices continue to curtail Irans rice purchases.
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