Raising tariff on rice imports not good for PH’s global ratings

Published October 29, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine Miraflor

Raising tariff on rice imports as part of the measures to address the declining price of palay will send a negative signal to the global market, a lawmaker said.

Cynthia Villar
Cynthia Villar

“We have to prove that we can compete,” Senator Cynthia Villar said on the sidelines of the 2019 National Food Security Summit.

She went on to say that “we got good ratings in the world when we were able to liberalize [because] we weren’t afraid to open the market to imported rice.”

“If we will impose safeguard measures, they will think that we just gave up and that we can’t do it,” she further said.

Implemented in March, the Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act (RA) 11203 allowed the entry of more imported rice into the country.

Since the law’s passage, more than 2 million metric tons (MT) of cheaper, imported rice already entered the country, resulting in the continuous decline in the price of palay.

Villar, who serves as the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, admitted that it would be easier to impose safeguard measures to address the declining price of palay but “it is an indication that we are afraid” to prove the country’s competitiveness.

Under the Section 10 of the law, in order to protect the Philippine rice industry from sudden or extreme price fluctuations, a special safeguard duty on rice could be imposed in accordance with Safeguard Measures Act.

During the first week of October, the average farmgate price of palay fell by 28.8 percent to P15.56 per kilogram (/kg) from the P21.86/kg during the same period last year.