PHL rice imports seen dropping on strong inventories, production

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Workers inside a Quezon City NFA warehouse last Feb. 20. -- PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAELVARCAS

THE PHILIPPINES is expected to reduce its rice imports due to ample inventories and increased production forecast for 2019/2020, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.

In its Grain: World Markets and Trade report for May 2019, the USDA noted that it expects Philippine rice inventories to rise with better production, forecasting that in 2020, rice imports will decline by 100,000 tons to 2.7 million metric tons (MT).

“The quantitative restrictions on rice imports have been replaced with tariffs, with a tariff advantage for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries,” it said.

This year, the Rice Tariffication act was signed into law. It aims to bring down the price of rice by importing foreign grain more freely. Tariffs that will be collected from the scheme will be used to fund upgrades to the rice industry.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), in the third week of April, the average farmgate price of palay, or unmilled rice, fell 1.12% from the previous week to P18.48/kg.

The average wholesale price of well-milled rice fell 0.25% week-on-week to P39.91/kg, while the average retail price of well-milled rice fell 0.25% from a week earlier to P43.68/kg. Expectations of cheap imports are pressuring domestic prices, affecting farmer incomes ahead of full-on importation.

In March, the agency estimated imports of rice of $82.860 million, up 668% from a year earlier.

The USDA said wheat imports to the Philippines are “projected unchanged at 7.0 million tons and remain at record-large (levels) with strong growth in both food and feed use.”

In March, the PSA estimated wheat imports of $148.479 million, up 51.3% from a year earlier. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang