Philippine President orders suspension of rice imports

22, Nov. 2019

HANOI, VNA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a halt in rice imports after prices of the staple fell more than a fifth during the last nine months, hurting millions of local famers.

Duterte and Secretary of Agriculture William Dar discussed the policy directive on November 20, a Department of Agriculture spokesman said.

Earlier, Duterte told a news conference that the rice import suspension was necessary because it is now the harvest time. However, experts were suspicious whether the halt will help lift rice prices, which have fallen more than 20 percent over the last nine months.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the volume of rice imports dropped drastically in October to 85,000 tonnes from a monthly average of 254,000 tonnes during January-September.

Rice imports surged after Manila lifted a two-decade-old cap on annual purchases to replace it with tariffs at levels critics called insufficient to protect farmers.

The Philippines, which often buys rice from Southeast Asian neighbours Vietnam and Thailand, has imported 2.9 million tonnes this year, more than double the annual average in recent years, to dislodge China from the top spot among importers. - VNA