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Regional Roundups


Far East Asia

Prices of rice and wheat generally decreased or remained stable in April


In most countries of the subregion, prices of rice weakened or remained stable in April on account of good domestic availabilities. Prices strengthened only in exporter, Viet Nam, despite the ongoing 2019 main “winter/spring” harvest, due to a pick-up in demand for exports, and in Thailand, where the seasonal upward pressure was compounded by concerns over the 2018/19 secondary season harvest, affected by limited water supplies. By contrast, prices declined in Myanmar, pressured by improved supplies from the 2018/19 secondary paddy harvest and a general slowdown in export sales. In other exporters, prices of rice remained stable in India where large government procurement purchases offset downward pressure from good domestic supplies and in Cambodia on account of large exports. In the subregion’s major rice producer, China (Mainland), prices of rice were also overall stable in April, reflecting large domestic availabilities. In importing countries, Indonesia and the Philippines, prices of rice weakened in April, reflecting good market supplies from the ongoing or recently-concluded 2018/19 harvests and imports. The decline in prices was more pronounced in Bangladesh, where prices reached levels more than 20 percent lower than a year earlier, on expectations of a bumper 2019 main “boro” output, currently being harvested, which follows a record 2018 output. Similarly, prices of rice continued to decline in Sri Lanka reflecting improved supplies from the recently-harvested main “maha” crop, estimated at an above-average level. With regard to wheat, prices generally declined in April. In China (Mainland), the subregion’s main producer, prices of wheat generally weakened and were down from their year earlier levels, on account of ample supplies and favourable prospects for the 2019 output. Similarly, in India, prices declined with the 2019 “rabi” harvest, about to be concluded and forecast at a near-record level. However, large government procurement, which as of 3 May accounted for 24.3 million tonnes or 25 percent of the country’s annual output, limited the decline in prices. To protect farmers from low prices, the Government raised wheat import duties in late April (FPMA Food Policies). In Pakistan, prices of wheat were stable or declined in some markets with the onset of the 2019 main wheat harvest, forecast at a bumper level. Among the wheat importing countries, prices of wheat flour remained stable in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, while they declined in Bangladesh, reflecting the high level of imports in recent months.