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.


Egypt stock market plunges as retail investors take flight

Updated 19 September 2018
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Egypt stock market plunges as retail investors take flight

  • Biggest index drop in Egypt since mid-2016
  • Saudi Arabia outperforms in Gulf

LONDON: Egyptian stocks tumbled to their lowest level this year on Wednesday as retail investors took flight.
A sharp rise in Suez Canal revenues, a major foreign exchange earner for the country, was not enough to quell investors concerns about the strength of the currency.
The main Egyptian stock index lost 3.8 percent which some fund managers blamed on generally negative sentiment toward emerging markets worldwide as well as more local speculation about possible currency devaluation.
“Our channel checks suggest the sell-off in the Egyptian market is local retail and institutions driven, on currency fears and speculation over a further round of devaluation,” said Vrajesh Bhandari, portfolio manager at Al Mal in Dubai, Reuters reported.
“Selling is further intensified as margin calls are triggered and technical support levels break down. The country canceled three consecutive Treasury auctions, citing investors’ unrealistic yield demands.”
Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues rose to $502.2 million in August up 6.7 percent from a year earlier according to official data released on Wednesday.
Elsewhere regional stock markets closed mostly lower with the exceptions of Abu Dhabi which edged 0.2 percent higher and Saudi Arabia, the best regional performer, which rose by 1.1 percent.
Saudi stocks are benefiting from the strong oil price which eased slightly yesterday but still hovered just under $79.
OPEC and some other oil producers including Russia will meet in Algeria on Sept. 23 to discuss how to allocate supply increases within their quota framework to offset the loss of oil exports from Iran following the introduction of sanctions by the US.
Those measures will come into force on Nov. 4 and data suggests that buyers are already retreating from Iranian crude purchases.
A key question for the oil price as well as regional stock markets in the weeks ahead will be the extent to which other Gulf oil exporters can compenaste for the loss of Iranian supplies by pumping more.