Prices of rice exported from Thailand rose this week on increased demand from Middle Eastern markets, while Indian and Vietnamese rates were unchanged.

Thailand's 5 per cent broken rice prices were quoted at $432-$435 per tonnes, up from $410-$414 last week.

"There has been an uptick in demand from markets like Iraq and Iran and also due to improved relations with Saudi Arabia," a Bangkok-based trader said.

Freighter costs, a major challenge for Thai rice export, has also been sidestepped because Middle Eastern buyers have sent their own freight for rice purchases, traders said.

A weaker Baht against the US dollar also contributed to the rise in rice prices this week, they added.

Top exporter India's 5 per cent broken parboiled variety was quoted at $361 to $365 per tonne, unchanged from the last week.

Domestic supplies are comfortable as government is distributing a lot of rice to poor people at free of cost or at nominal rate," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Vietnam's 5 per cent broken rice were offered at $415 per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from last week.

However, prices could rise in the coming weeks as supplies were running low with the winter-spring harvest almost over, a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

"Traders are hesitant to sign new export contracts, waiting for prices to go up higher," the trader added.

Preliminary shipping data showed 300,990 tonnes of rice is to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City port in April, and 40,000 tonnes during the first week of May, with most of the rice heading to the Philippines, Africa and Cuba.

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