PHL seen to import in 2023 record-high 3.9MMT rice


PHILIPPINE rice imports are expected to rise to a record-high of 3.9 million metric tons (MMT) this year, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said, upgrading its previous forecast of 3.7 million MT.

“The higher forecast,” international market watchers USDA-FAS said, owes “mainly” to the “higher-than-anticipated imports of Vietnam rice.”

Meanwhile, the country’s imports forecast for 2024 is higher at 3.8 million MT than the 3.6 million MT.

Earlier, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) data showed that the Philippines’s rice imports breached the million-metric-ton (MT) mark as of early May.

The country’s rice imports as of May 4 hit 1.3 million MT, down by 12.7 percent from 1.5 million MT recorded by the agency as of May of 2022.

In the first week of May this year alone, rice imports amounted to 34,050 MT, a decline of 89.2 percent from  316,604.35 MT a year ago.

Vietnam, the Philippines’ leading source of rice imports, supplied 1.2 million MT or almost 90 percent of the total.  Myanmar came second with 70,165 MT.

The Philippines also purchased rice from Thailand, Pakistan, India, China and Japan.

The most favored nation (MFN) tariff rate for rice remains at 35 percent for both in-quota and out-quota imports until end-December this year.

Beginning January 2024, the MFN for rice will revert to 40 percent for in-quota and 50 percent for out-quota.

In 2022, the country’s rice importation has reached 3.7 million MT, almost 1 million MT higher compared to the 2.77 million imported in the same period last year, BPI said.

Thailand exported 183,230 MT of rice to the Philippines last year while India shipped 10,094 MT, based on BPI data.

Both Pakistan and India benefited from the lowering to 35 percent of the MFN tariff rates on rice imports.

In December last year, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order (EO) 10 extending the validity of reduced tariff rates on various agricultural products to maintain affordable prices,  ensure food security and help augment the supply of food items, among others.

The Department of Agriculture said the local rice supply would remain stable amid growing concerns over rice shortage and price increases because of the El Niño phenomenon.

In April, the DA said the ending stock of palay stood at about 5.66 million MT in the first quarter of 2023, which is good for 51 days of consumption.