Exclusive: Bangladesh, India finalising first bilateral rice deal in 3 years - sources

By Ruma Paul and Rajendra Jadhav
DHAKA / MUMBAI (Reuters) - Bangladesh completes purchase of 150,000 tons of rice from India's NAFED, New Delhi-based government agency told Reuters. This would be the first such bilateral agreement in three years after floods in Bangladesh caused local prices to hit record highs.
India, the world's largest travel exporter, is offering a significant discount on supplies from rivals Thailand and Vietnam to help reduce its post-burst surplus.
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"We are negotiating with Bangladesh," said a spokesman for NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd.). "NAFED is able to supply Bangladesh with up to 500,000 tons of rice."
A senior official from the Bangladeshi Food Ministry said they could buy 100,000 tons of parboiled rice and 50,000 tons of white rice under an intergovernmental agreement.
India could sell parboiled rice for around $ 407 and white rice for around $ 417 per ton on a cost, insurance and freight (CIF) basis, an Indian government source said. The prices are around a third cheaper than in Thailand and Vietnam.
All delivery is expected to come from the port of Haldia in the Indian state of West Bengal on the border with Bangladesh in the first quarter of next year, the Indian government official added.
Both Indian and Bangladeshi government officials declined to be named as details are still being worked out.
Representatives from the Ministries of Commerce and Food of India and Bangladesh did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Bangladesh, the third largest rice producer in the world with an annual production of nearly 35 million tons, relies from time to time on imports to deal with bottlenecks caused by natural disasters such as floods or drought.
The state grain agency published its first bid to buy rice in three years in November to improve local supplies. The country with more than 160 million inhabitants was able to import up to 500,000 tons of rice by June.
"Bilateral agreements will accelerate India's rice exports," said B.V. Krishna Rao, president of the Indian Rice Exporters' Association. "The government should try to do more such deals since we have enough surplus for exports."
(Reporting by Ruma Paul and Rajendra Jadhav; editing by Pravin Char)

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