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Rice Prices Tumble But Remain Out of Reach for Many of the Poor

This is a joint posting with Peter Timmer
Rice prices have continued to tumble this week amid reports that Cambodia is moving to ease export restrictions and other exporters may follow suit. This came after Japan's announcement that it would proceed with sales to the Philippines of 250,000 tons of rice (200,000 tons of imports and 50,000 tons of Japanese rice), and a U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) statement that: "the United States was supportive of Japan's initiative." (Readers who are following this story will recall that the U.S. has the ability to block the re-export of U.S. rice that Japan was compelled to buy but never offered on the domestic market).

Kudos to Tokyo and Washington on Rice Sales -- Et Tu, Thailand and India?

This post is joint with Tom Slayton, a rice trade expert and former editor of The Rice Trader

Today in Tokyo, Japan's Vice Minister for Agriculture, Toshirou Shirasu, told reporters that Japan plans to export 200,000 tons of rice to the Philippines "as fast as possible." This confirmed sale comes on top of 50,000 tons of Japanese rice previously under discussion. Even the anticipation of these sales had done much to take the speculative steam out of over-heated global rice markets, as we reported towards the end of last week (see "Rice Prices Fall After Congressional Hearings But Crisis Not Over Yet"), so with some sales now officially confirmed we can hope to see further easing of speculative pressures.

Rice Prices Fall After Congressional Hearings But Crisis Not Over Yet

This post is joint with Tom Slayton, a rice trade expert and former editor of The Rice Trader
It has been a busy week in the rice markets following CGD's release on Monday of our note about how to puncture a speculative price bubble that threatens millions of people with malnutrition and worse (see Unwanted Rice in Japan Can Solve the Rice Crisis--If Washington and Tokyo Act ). On Wednesday our proposal was discussed at hearings on the world food crisis in both the House and Senate.

President Bush Can and Should Do More to Address the Food Crisis: Let Japan Sell Its Rice Reserves

This posting is joint with Vijaya Ramachandran

Today, President Bush called on Congress to provide another $770 million in food aid, in addition to the $200 million already allocated through the Department of Agriculture,in order "to keep our existing food aid programs robust."

There is no doubt that these additional funds are much needed to purchase and distribute food to those who are suffering greatly from the current spike in food prices. But the U.S. can and should do more. Specifically, the U.S. must allow Japan to sell, at full cost on Japanese books, the 1.5
million metric tons of rice that it has in storage. About 600,000 tons is
Thai and Vietnamese long-grain rice (high quality) and the rest is US medium
grain (good rice). All of the rice is in Japanese warehouses because of an
agreement with the World Trade Organization, and the U.S. as "cognizant
observer" of the rice agreement, would need to approve the sale of both
the
US and the Thai/Vietnamese rice. Japan currently cannot release this rice
to the World Food Program (or to the world market) without permission from
the U.S., and the Bush administration is yet to move on this.