Philippine International Trading Corp. cancelled the planned government-to-government importation of 300,000 metric tons of rice which are supposed to arrive in the lean months of July and August.
PITC’s decision will enable the private sector to proceed with rice imports under the Rice Tariffication Law that liberalized the rice trade sector.
“Under the Rice Tariffication Law, PITC is the agency tasked to merely implement any directive from the Agriculture Department to import rice under a G2G arrangement. The provisions of the RTL basically open up rice importation to any private group,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez. PITC is an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry.
Lopez said the initial decision for the proposed G2G importation by PITC was due to the apparent insufficient local inventory in the rainy season. It also reflected the government’s reaction to Vietnam’s announcement to stop rice exports in April.
“It will be recalled that the initial decision for the G2G importation plan was a result of the potential threat to maintaining a good buffer supply of rice for the country. Earlier computations from DA showed a threat to the targeted level of buffer stock following the imposed ban of rice exportation of Vietnam in April,” Lopez said.
Vietnam is the top supplier of rice, accounting for over 90 percent of Philippines rice imports. The Philippines imports around 7 percent to 14 percent of its total rice requirement.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier asked the Vietnamese government through Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to lift its rice export ban. Vietnam then made a commitment that it would contribute to securing a stable supply of food for the Philippines.
“With the lifting of the rice export ban of Vietnam, we can expect more comfortable buffer stock levels moving forward,” Lopez said.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said with the rice imports handled by the private sector traders as stipulated by the RTL, their purchase of rice imports will mean generating greater tariff revenues for the government.
Under the RTL, tariff revenues from rice imports will be used to fund the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund which is designed to boost productivity and income of rice farmers.