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Philippines to import up to 805,200 tonnes of rice

Philippines to import up to 805,200 tonnes of rice

MANILA: The Philippines’ state grains agency said on Thursday it is set to accept applications from private traders to import up to 805,200 tonnes of rice, more than two-thirds of which must come from Thailand and Vietnam.

The National Food Authority (NFA), the agency regulating rice importation, said traders can ship in up to 293,100 tonnes each from Thailand and Vietnam, with the rest to come from other countries not later than Feb. 28, 2017. The additional demand from the Philippines, one of the world’s biggest rice buyers, could underpin export prices from the two countries.

Thailand and Vietnam, the world’s second- and third-largest rice suppliers after India, last month won supply contracts from the Philippines’ NFA for 100,000 tonnes and 150,000 tonnes, respectively. Traders in Vietnam expect Vietnamese rice prices to firm slightly thanks to the potential new demand. Vietnam’s small initial deal with the NFA didn’t help to lift its export quotations, which stood at multi-month lows given the country’s high stocks.

The NFA issued the import guidelines on Thursday, under which traders are to bring in well milled rice with a quality not lower than 25 percent brokens or any special variety. Shipments will be levied with a 35 percent tariff. The importation is under a country-specific quota scheme covered by a 2014 agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO), which allows the Philippines to provide minimum market access for rice imports.

Philippine rice importers can also buy up to 50,000 tonnes each from China, India and Pakistan, up to 15,000 tonnes from Australia, up to 4,000 tonnes from El Salvador, and 50,000 tonnes from any country. The Southeast Asian nation has kept import restrictions for the grain in place since 1995, when it joined the WTO, to protect local farmers.

On Wednesday Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the country will open its doors to higher rice imports by next year, by not seeking a further extension of the import restrictions that will lapse in June 2017.