Gov’t plan to import 300,000 MT of rice abandoned

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THE Philippine International Trading Center (PITC), an arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), has abandoned plans to import 300,000 metric tons of rice via government-to-government (G2G) deals, following talks with the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The import plan was budgeted for P7.45 billion and was intended to boost supply during the lean months of July and August.

In a statement Friday, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that under Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), the PITC is tasked with carrying out any directive from the DA to import rice on a G2G basis.

Mr. Lopez said the government’s initial decision to import rice came after a negative assessment of available supply after Vietnam banned rice imports.

“Earlier computations from the DA showed a threat to the targeted level of buffer stock following the Vietnam ban on rice exports in April,” Mr. Lopez said.

However, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc lifted the ban and made a commitment to assist the Philippines in securing its supply at the request of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Imports account for 7% to 14% of the Philippines’ total rice requirement, with Vietnam supplying over 90% of Philippine imports

“With the lifting of the rice export ban of Vietnam, we can expect more comfortable buffer stock levels moving forward,” Mr. Lopez said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave