WORLD RICE SITUATION AND OUTLOOK
The forecast for global rice trade in 1999 is reduced 350,000 tons this month, to 21 million tons, primarily due to reductions in the export estimates for Thailand and Egypt. These reductions are partially offset by an increase in the export forecast for India. The 1998 trade estimate is revised up 900,000 tons, to a record 26.6 million tons on increases in the export estimates for India and Thailand.
Export quotes for Thai rice generally strengthened during the month of December, with quotes for 100B gaining nearly $20 per ton, to reach $294 by the first week of January. Heavy loadings, primarily of parboiled rice, lingering concerns that dryness could cause problems with the second crop, and some strengthening of the baht supported the stronger prices. Meanwhile, Viet quotes continued to slump on slow new sales and sizeable carryover stocks. After moving steadily upward in recent months in anticipation of large sales to Indonesia, quotes for rice from Pakistan fell in mid-December on news that the specifications for the Bulog tender would be tighter than expected. A later relaxation of the specs resulted in a rebound in prices and sales of 277,000 tons.
The forecast for 1999 exports from Thailand is decreased 300,000 tons this month (to 5.5 million tons) due to lower production. Thailands 1998 export estimate is adjusted to 6.367 million tons.
The 1999 export forecast for Egypt is lowered to 300,000 tons. Egypts earlier plans for large sales of rice to Indonesia appear to have been overly optimistic.
The estimate for 1998 exports from India is revised upward to 4.25 million tons to account for large truck and rail shipments to Bangladesh. The 1999 export forecast for India is increased to 2.2 million tons.
The 1999 forecast for imports by the United States is lowered to 300,000 tons.
The 1998 import estimate for Bangladesh is increased to 2.35 million tons to reflect truck and rail shipments from India. The forecast for 1999 imports is increased to 950,000 tons.
The estimate for 1998 imports by China is lowered to 250,000 tons, and the forecast for 1999 imports is reduced to 300,000 tons. Increased central control over trade appears to have curtailed imports of higher quality and fragrant rice.
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