India rates jump to 7-month peak on freight trains shortage



* The Philippines will be Vietnam’s largest buyer in 2022- traders

* Indian traders stopped signing Feb. export contracts- officials

* Overseas demand still muted- Thai traders

By Kavya Guduru

Jan 20 (Reuters) - Rice prices in top exporter India hit a more than seven-month high this week due to a railway wagon scarcity, while rates in Thailand reached their highest level since July on a stronger baht.

India's 5% broken parboiled variety RI-INBKN5-P1 was quoted at $375-$382 per tonne, its highest since June, up from last week's $367-$375.

"Railway wagons are not available and moving rice by trucks means spending nearly double on transportation," said a Kakinada-based exporter in Andhra Pradesh.

Nearly a third of India's rice exports for this month are stuck due to a shortage of freight trains. Most traders have stopped signing February export contracts to avoid demurrage charges, industry officials told Reuters.

Thailand's 5% broken rice RI-THBKN5-P1 prices rose to $407-$410 per tonne, the highest since last mid-July, from $404-$405 last week.

The baht THB=TH appreciated against the U.S. dollar, causing rice prices to rise, said Bangkok-based traders, adding that prices are expected to hover around these levels for a while as overseas demand is muted.

Vietnam's 5% broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 was offered at $395-$405 per tonne, unchanged from a week ago.

"The market is quiet, and we expect it to remain so until after the Lunar New Year holiday," said a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City, adding domestic supplies will remain low until the harvest beginning next month.

Traders forecast export prices to remain high this year on strong wheat and corn prices, and said Philippines will continue to be Vietnam's largest buyer this year.

Bangladesh started selling cut-price rice to help poor people hit by exceptionally high commodity prices during the pandemic and stepped up imports while it strengthens efforts to grow more rice.

The lowest price offered in the tender from Bangladesh's state grains buyer to purchase 50,000 tonnes of rice which closed on Sunday was $421.99 a tonne CIF liner out, officials said.
Reporting by Kavya Guduru in Bengaluru, Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Ruma Paul in Bangladesh, additional reporting by Swati Verma; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel

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