PH to import less rice in 2020; becomes world’s largest rice importer

Published December 13, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B.Miraflor

The Philippines is seen to import less rice in 2020, but will still emerge as the world’s largest buyer of rice.

The Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report prepared by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service said that global trade for rice for next year will be “nearly unchanged with reduced imports for China partially offsetting higher imports for Ghana and the Philippines.”

This only means one thing: Philippines, for 2020, will still be the world’s biggest rice importer.

For 2020, USDA sees that Philippines importing as much as 2.7 million metric tons (MT) of rice, which is lower than the 2.4 million MT of rice that China may import.

Its earlier forecast for next year was that Philippines may import only as much as China did at 2.5 million MT. The gap only appeared when all outlook said the world’s second largest economy will be producing more rice locally.

As a result, Philippines will be outpacing all countries when it comes to rice imports starting this year.

USDA changed its earlier forecast and said that the country’s actual rice imports may end at a record 3.2 million MT instead of 3 million MT, still the highest amount of imported rice allowed to enter the country.

China, on the other hand, may end the year with only 2.4 million MT rice imports, officially giving up its status as the world’s biggest rice importer despite having nearly 1.5 billion population.

Sometime in October, Agriculture Secretary William Dar did acknowledge that Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act (RA) 11203 already resulted to an overwhelming amount of rice imports to the detriment of Filipino rice farmers.

It is also for this reason why President Rodrigo Duterte said a couple of times last month that he will stop rice importation, which temporarily appeased the rice farmers.

The confusion whether the Philippine government will really stop or continue rice tariffication eventually came to an end when Duterte, together with his cabinet members, decided that RA 11203 must stay and will stay the same.

They ended up agreeing that they will leave the recently passed RA 11203 alone and will instead control the volume of imported rice that enters the country by restricting the issuance of permit to rice traders.

Passed in January and implemented in March, RA 11203 allowed the unimpeded entry of imported rice into the country, which resulted not only to lower retail cost of rice but also to the continuous decline of palay, forcing farmers to sell their yield at a loss.