India remains the world’s leading exporter of rice despite government restrictions.

India remained the world’s top rice exporter in 2023 despite banning shipments of white rice and imposing a 20 percent tariff on pre-milled rice, according to the Thai Rice Exporters Association (TREA). However, its share of the global market declined, as shipments fell by 27 percent. TREA Honorary President Chukiat Opaswong told the media in Bangkok earlier this week that India exported 16.5 million tonnes (mt) of rice in 2023, remaining the same. Shipments, including basmati, rose to a record 22.3 million tonnes in 2022.

Opaswong said Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan were filling the gap left by India’s shores. Thailand emerged as the second-largest exporter, shipping out 8.8 mt, Vietnam third with a record 8.3 mt exports and Pakistan the fourth-biggest shipper.

Scaling down export estimates

However, India is expected to be back in the global rice market later this year and ship out more, the TREA official said, adding that Vietnam and Thailand will compete for the second spot exporting about 7.5 mt, while Pakistan could maintain its shipments at 5 mt. Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan will continue to command over $600 a tonne for their rice as long as Indian curbs are in place, Opaswong said. Generally, barring Pakistan and Thailand’s 25% broken white, rice prices are ruling over $600 a tonne. On the other hand, El Nino, which set in June last year, could affect production if drought and dry periods extend in Thailand. Not just Thailand, the El Nino weather pattern, expected to turn neutral by June this year could impact paddy in India, Pakistan and Vietnam too.

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