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International trading in rice, the world’s second most popular foodstock after wheat, is small as most rice is consumed where it is produced. Still, global milled rice trade in calendar 2000 at 23.3 million metric tonnes will be second to the record high 27.4 million tonnes in 1998 as increased demand from the Middle East and Latin America offset weaker trade in Asia. U.S. exports of an estimated 3 million tonnes will not differ very much from 1998/99, leaving the U.S. among the top exporters. Asia accounts for most of the world’s exports with Thailand leading the way at 5.7 million tonnes in 2000, unchanged from 1999 and compared with the record high of 6.4 million tonnes in 1998. Importing countries are numerous but only three nations are expected to import one million tonnes or more in 2000. Indonesia is consistently the largest importer with 3 million tonnes forecast for 2000, slightly under 1999 but well under the 6 million tons imported in 1998. On a regional basis, the Middle East tends to be the largest importer. For U.S. rice exports the Western Hemisphere is the primary destination and is higher priced than Asian rice. Low quality rice, an extremely price sensitive sector dominated by Asian sellers, constitutes a major portion of total imports. International prices, notably Asian, have been under pressure in the late 1990’s primarily because of currency factors. U.S. prices, however, have held fairly steady reflecting, in part, a slow marketing pace by producers. The longer term down trend in world stocks appears to have bottomed reflecting higher exports and consumption. Carryover 1999/2000 stocks of 50.9 million metric tonnes are higher than initially expected and compare with 52 million a year earlier. China holds almost half the total with India second at about 20 percent. World rough rice production in 1999/00 of a record high 584 million tonnes (393 million, milled) compares with 582 million (388 million, milled) in 1998/99. World consumption of a record high 395 million tonnes (milled) compares with 389 million in 1998/99. China is the largest producer and consumer with about a third of each of the world’s total; India is second. Estimated U.S. rice production in 1999/00 (August-July) of a record large 212 million cwt. (9.6 million tons rough) compares with 188 million cwt. in 1998/99. Domestic usage was put at 113 million cwt. in 1999/00 vs. 121 million in 1998/99, and exports at 195 million cwt. vs. 205 million cwt., respectively. The U.S. average farm price in 1999/00 was forecast at $5.75-$6.25 per cwt. vs. $8.83 in 1998/99. Futures Markets Rough rice futures and options are traded on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT).

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Excerpted from the CRB Commodity Yearbook.