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Thailand's rice export up 45%, country exporter No1

Staff writer |
Thailand regained the title of the world's top rice exporter, thanks a 45% jump in volumes, even as US officials cautioned of a potential slowdown in the releases from state inventories which have fuelled the surge.

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Thailand had, as of May 20, shipped 3.93m tonnes of rice in 2014, overtaking India, with 3.74m tonnes, and Vietnam, with 2.4m tonnes, to become once more the top exporter of the grain, the Thai Rice Exporters Association said.

The jump in exports reflects a return to earth for Thai prices from elevated levels reached after the government in October 2011 began stockpiling the grain in a policy to support farmers' incomes, sending prices that month to $650 a tonne, for the benchmark grade of 5% broken rice.

Thai rice is now priced at about $390 a tonne, below the $400 a tonne being demand for Vietnamese supplies and $420-430 for Indian exports, the association said.

The decline in prices has been driven by sales from state stockpiles, with officials since January having issued tenders from some 4m tonnes of rice. However, the coup two weeks ago led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, commander of the Royal Thai Army, means that "sales of rice stocks may slow down", the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bangkok office said.

Thailand's military government "will inspect government rice stocks nationwide before further decision on the sales of its rice stocks".

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