Salceda: Asean Summit could serve as venue for agreement on regional rice supply security


The Asean Summit is an opportunity for the Philippines to seek a regional agreement that the member-nations won’t impose restrictions on each other’s rice supply.

House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda issued the statement on Tuesday as National Statistician and Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Undersecretary Dennis Mapa bared the rising cost of rice, which significantly affects the consumer price index.

Salceda said the Philippine government should work with its trading partners to ensure that they honor their contracts.

“The Asean Summit is an opportunity for PBBM [President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.] to push for a regional consensus that we will not restrict each other’s rice supply,” the lawmaker-economist said.

“Our size as a rice trading market also gives us some power over the global price dynamic, and President Marcos’ EO [Executive Order] 39 was a good initial step in signaling that we will not tolerate price manipulation in the global rice trade,” he said.

Earlier, President Marcos ordered through EO 39 a price cap of P41.00 per kilo for regular milled rice, while well milled rice will have a price cap of P45.00 per kilo.

The PSA said the country’s inflation hit 5.3 percent in August, which was higher than the 4.7 percent seen in July but slower than the 6.3 percent recorded in August 2022.

“The spot price of rice has also normalized to pre-export ban levels, and the price of rice in contracts should follow this downward trend. As I have said, this indicates that PBBM’s gambit with EO 39 achieved its desired initial effect,” he added.

“I also expect the downward trend in the year-on-year inflation rate to resume this September and towards the end of the year,” he added.

More trade

Meanwhile, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said Tuesday that the 43rd Asean Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, presents an opportune venue for Marcos to boost trade and investment between the Philippines and Asean-member countries.

“The Asean Summit provides an excellent venue for President Marcos to showcase the distinct advantages the Philippines has as a trade and investment hub so as to create more jobs and business opportunities for the Filipino people,” Romualdez said.

Among others, Romualdez cited legislative reforms such as the amendment to the Public Service Act, the Foreign Investment Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act to further open up the Philippines to the entry of foreign investments, as well as incentives for investors under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE).

Romualdez said that with a projected growth rate of 4.9 percent in 2024, the region continues to see increased intra-Asean trade and an influx of foreign direct investments.

“The steady recovery of the region from the pandemic and its improving macro-economic fundamentals amid geo-political headwinds make Asean a favored destination of foreign investments, and the Philippines can capitalize on this trend for the benefit of our people,” Romualdez said.

He noted that in addition to the 43rd Asean Summit, the Jakarta gathering of regional leaders would also include related summits of Asean with dialogue partners such as the United States, China, Canada, Japan, and South Korea, as well as with the United Nations.

Likewise, Romualdez said President Marcos is expected to have bilateral meetings with other state leaders attending the Asean Summit as well as separate engagements with Indonesian business leaders.

“These engagements are important venues for the President to also promote our national interests,” Romualdez said.

In his departure statement, President Marcos said that in his participation in the 43rd ASEAN Summit, he would highlight the need to promote a rules-based international order, including in the South China Sea.

Likewise, the President said he would call attention to other advocacies of the Philippines, such as strengthening food security, calling for climate justice, tapping the potential of the digital and creative economies, protecting migrant workers in crisis situations, and combating the crime of human trafficking.