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Private Sector allowed to import 163,000 tons of rice this year

February 10, 2011

February 7, 2011, 5:39pm

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) – The Philippine government has allowed the private sector to import 163,000 metric tons of rice this year as it needs to stockpile on the staple before world commodity prices increases further, the authorities said Monday.

Rice is a politically-sensitive crop and it’s only the state- owned National Food Authority (NFA) that’s allowed to import it to ensure food security.

The NFA announced Monday that under the country specific quota (CSQ) program, private traders and cooperatives can import rice from any of these four countries only: Thailand, China, India and Australia. The private sector will be allowed to import as much as 98,000 tons from Thailand; 25,000 tons from China; 25,000 tons from India; and 15,000 tons from Australia. However, all rice importation under this program are subject to the payment of 40 percent tariff.

NFA Administrator Angelito Banayo said it is likely that the CSQ volume will already form part of the total volume of milled rice that will be imported for the rest of the year.

The CSQ importation is Philippine commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in exchange for the extension of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice. The QR allows the country to peg its rice import volume in a given year. The extension of the rice QR aims to shield Filipino rice farmers from cheaper rice imports.

Last week, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) disclosed that world food prices surged to a “new historic peak” in January for the seventh consecutive month. The Rome-based agency said there is an upward pressure on world food prices and that this pressure will not ease anytime soon.

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