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Regional Roundups


East Asia

Prices of rice showed mixed trends but above their year-earlier levels, those of wheat generally stable


Prices of rice followed mixed trends in June but were generally higher than their year-earlier levels in most countries of the subregion. Among the main rice exporters, prices stabilized in Viet Nam, but remained well above their year-earlier levels, after an overall increasing trend since June 2017, on account of a sustained pace of exports and reduced outputs in the past two years. Similarly, prices of rice were stable in India, as support provided by large Government purchases was offset by the bumper 2017 secondary rabi harvest. In Cambodia, price trends were mixed. By contrast, prices decreased in Thailand and were well-below their levels in June last year, weighed by increased supplies from the 2017 secondary crop harvest, estimated at a good level, and a slow down in demand in the international market. Among the monitored exporting countries, Myanmar was the only one, where prices increased in June owing to a strong pace of exports. Current forecasts indicate that the country could export an all-time high volume of 3.2 million tonnes during the calendar year 2018. As for importers, prices also showed mixed trends although their month-on-month changes were less pronounced. In the Philippines, prices continued their upward trend and reached all-time highs in June, in nominal terms, despite adequate supplies from the bumper 2017 harvest. Prices were supported by high fuel prices and a high general inflation rate, which continued to accelerate in June and reached a five-year high of 5.2 percent year-on-year. In Sri Lanka, prices increased on expectations of a reduced 2018 secondary yala crop owing to tight water supplies. By contrast, in Indonesia and Bangladesh, prices of rice continued to decrease in June reflecting improved market availabilities from the already-harvested 2018 main crops and imports. As for wheat and wheat flour, prices remained generally unchanged throughout the subregion. In India, quotations were stable in most markets despite the record 2018 crop, recently harvested, reflecting large Governmental purchases. Similarly, prices remained stable in Bangladesh owing to adequate market supplies from the 2018 winter harvest, completed in April, and from all-time-highs import levels in the 2017/18 marketing year. Prices remained stable also in Sri Lanka and around their year-earlier values reflecting adequate imports. In Pakistan, the new 2018 crop continued to weigh on prices of wheat grain and wheat flour, while in Afghanistan, prices of mostly-imported wheat flour remained virtually unchanged in June and down from a year earlier.