Pakistan expects rice order from Indonesia

Pakistan expects Indonesia to place orders for its rice in coming days, said Irfan Ahmed Sheikh, the outgoing chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), as the Southeast Asian country seeks alternative sources of the grain.

“There will be a potential for Pakistan in coming days. We are expecting orders from Indonesia,” Sheikh told Reuters on Thursday, but added that the Indonesian side has not approached them yet.

“We are one of the cheapest sources and we have a natural edge. Our IRRI-6 prices on average are less than $500 a tonne, FOB.”

The price of Thailand’s benchmark export-grade rice was $627 a tonne this week, up from $619 last week, exporters said on Thursday, ahead of a government intervention scheme likely to push the price further up from next month.

And Vietnam’s rice export prices rose nearly 1 per cent on Thursday, with the 5 per cent broken grade hitting $575 a tonne and heading towards $580, the highest in more than three years.

Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu said on Wednesday the country has alternative sources of rice from Pakistan, India and Vietnam, even as it tries to iron out the reported cancellation of a proposed Thai government sale to Indonesia.

Sheikh said Indonesian officials had approached Pakistani commerce ministry about three months ago for a government-to-government deal but were told to go to the private sector.

Commerce Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment. REAP handles the bulk of rice exports from the South Asian country.

Heavy monsoon rains have caused little damage to Pakistan’s rice crop and traders are expecting output of up to 6.5 million tonnes. Pakistan, the world’s fifth-largest rice exporter, is hoping to export 4.5 million tonnes of rice in the 2011/12 (July-June) fiscal year