India’s rice exports forecast to hit record 12.3 million tons, thanks to Bangladesh

The boost in shipments from the world’s top exporter of the grain is set to extend into 2018 as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka continue to buy aggressively amid depleting inventories in Thailand. (Reuters)
Updated 10 January 2018
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India’s rice exports forecast to hit record 12.3 million tons, thanks to Bangladesh

MUMBAI/DHAKA: India’s rice exports likely jumped 22 percent in 2017 to a record 12.3 million tons as neighboring Bangladesh ramped up purchases after flooding hit its crops, industry officials said.
The boost in shipments from the world’s top exporter of the grain is set to extend into 2018 as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka continue to buy aggressively amid depleting inventories in No. 2 exporter Thailand, the officials said.
“Bangladesh was actively buying throughout 2017. It offset the impact of slightly weaker demand from African countries,” said M. Adishankar, executive director at Sri Lalitha, a leading rice exporter located in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Bangladesh’s purchases likely lifted India’s non-basmati rice exports by 38 percent in 2017 to 8.4 million tons and total exports to 12.3 million tons, the officials and exporters said. That would surpass 2014’s record of 11.5 million tons.
They based the 2017 export figures on their estimates for December shipments plus previously issued government data for January to November. Government numbers for December are expected to be released around the start of next month.
India exports non-basmati rice mainly to African and Asian countries and premium basmati rice to the Middle East, the US and Britain.
Traditionally the world’s fourth-biggest rice producer, Bangladesh emerged as a major importer of the grain in 2017 after floods damaged crops and pushed domestic prices to record highs.
Bangladesh sourced more than 80 percent of its 2017 imports of 2.4 million tons from India, said Badrul Hasan, head of Bangladesh’s state grains buyer.
The South Asian nation’s overseas rice purchases are likely to remain robust until supply rises after its summer crop, also known as Boro, in May, Hasan said.
Boro contributes more than half Bangladesh’s typical annual rice output of around 35 million tons.
Last year Bangladesh reduced import taxes on rice to boost private buying. It also bought rice from India in state-to-state deals to quickly raise supplies and try to rein in prices.
But rice prices stayed high in Bangladesh despite the largest imports in nearly two decades, which will encourage farmers to expand the amount of land used to cultivate the staple crop, Hasan said.
India’s rice exports in 2018 depend largely on non-basmati shipments as basmati exports are likely to remain more-or-less steady at around 4 million tons, said Vijay Setia, president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association.
“Non-basmati exports depend on stock positions in importing countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,” Setia said.
African nations stepped up buying from Thailand last year, but that could ease in 2018 as state stockpiles are depleted in the Southeast Asian country, potentially boosting appetite for Indian supply, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.
“For key markets like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, India has freight advantage over Thailand. This will help even in 2018,” the Mumbai-based dealer said.


Apple phones still sold in China despite ban

Updated 14 min 23 sec ago
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Apple phones still sold in China despite ban

  • Apple has recently been overtaken by other competitors in China
  • Apple's high prices leave their products out of reach for many users

BEIJING, China: Apple stores in China continued with business as usual Tuesday despite a court-ordered ban on iPhone sales, but the US tech giant faces a growing nationalist backlash over the US-sought arrest of a Huawei executive.
According to US chipmaker Qualcomm, which requested the ban, the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court ordered four Apple subsidiaries to stop selling older models of the iPhone, including the 7, 7 Plus, 8, and 8 Plus.
But Apple stores contacted by AFP in Beijing, Shanghai and Fuzhou said they were still selling those older models — confirming a company statement that all remain available.
Sales staff at a Beijing Apple store said they had not yet received any internal notices about the court injunction on iPhone sales.
“If the ban is ultimately imposed, there will be no Apple products under 6,500 yuan ($940) in China,” noted Wang Xi, a senior market analyst at research firm IDC.
That would give Chinese smartphone brands, such as Huawei, “more opportunities in the high-end market,” he told AFP.
Qualcomm’s request to halt iPhone sales is part of a long-running patent dispute with Apple.
Separately, Apple is also the target of nationalist sentiment over the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer in Canada at the behest of the United States on alleged Iran sanctions violations.
The Chinese government has condemned the arrest and demanded her release.
Some Chinese netizens and companies have also turned against Apple.
“What if China banned Apple the way the US has banned Huawei?” wrote one user on Twitter-like Weibo in a post that garnered more than 500 likes. “What if Apple lost its manufacturing center in China?“
Leaked company documents announcing rewards for Huawei purchases and penalties for owning Apple products are also circulating on Chinese social media.
A tech firm based in southwestern China, Chengdu RYD Information Technology, said it would reward employees who bought Huawei products with subsidies in an internal notice that it later confirmed via its official WeChat account.
The Shanghai Nanchong Chamber of Commerce confirmed that it too was offering subsidies for Huawei smartphones, and that staff and executive members of the business group would “lose their positions” if found with Apple products.
It seems that “general sentiment is gradually turning to against Apple and support Huawei now,” due to recent events, such as Meng’s arrest and the US-China trade war, said Wang.
China is a crucial market for Apple, but is has been overtaken by Chinese competitors in recent years.
According to a 2018 financial report, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were together Apple’s third largest market by net sales, after the Americas and Europe.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook has also made regular visits to China, and has touted the company’s inroads in the Chinese market as well as its manufacturing there.
But Apple’s premium-priced products remain out of reach for many users, increasing the appeal of more affordable phones produced by local companies.
Apple has the fifth largest market share in China, trailing behind Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi, according to data from IDC.
Qualcomm, the leading supplier of chips for mobile devices, serves several Apple competitors in China, including Huawei, and has been in a prolonged legal battle with Apple in recent years.
Apple has claimed that Qualcomm is abusing its market power over certain mobile chipsets in order to demand unfair royalties, joining a string of antitrust actions against the chipmaker.
Qualcomm has countersued Apple and earlier this year escalated its legal fight, claiming the iPhone maker stole trade secrets and shared them with mobile chip rival Intel.
According to Qualcomm’s US lawsuit, Apple’s goal was to buy mobile chips from Intel instead of depending on Qualcomm.
An Apple statement to AFP called Qualcomm’s effort to ban iPhone sales in China a “desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world,” and added that “we will pursue all our legal options through the courts.”