PHILIPPINE rice imports this year will rise by 20 percent to a record high of 3 million metric tons (MMT), making the country one of the world’s top buyers of the staple, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The USDA said purchases for imports went up after the government removed the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice with the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 11203, or the rice trade liberalization law.
On March 5 the government, through RA 11203, liberalized the country’s rice trade by removing the QR on the staple and limiting the role of the National Food Authority to buffer stocking.
In its monthly global grains situation report, the USDA said it has observed “rapid pace of shipments, particularly from Vietnam,” after the government liberalized domestic rice industry.
Due to this, the USDA revised upward its 2019 import forecast for the Philippines from the earlier estimated 2.8 MMT. The Philippines imported 2.5 MMT of rice last year, USDA data showed.
The Philippines’s projected rice purchases this year could eclipse the 2.4 MMT it bought in 2008, when the country experienced a rice-price crisis. USDA data showed that this will be the first time that the country’s purchases will hit the 3-MMT level.
USDA data also indicated that the projected rice purchases of the country for 2019 would make the Philippines the second-biggest buyer of the staple for the second consecutive year.
The USDA attributed this to higher ending stocks in 2019, which could settle at 3.39 MMT.