The Philippine Star
Phl now importing nearly same volume of rice as China
The Philippines and China are not only competing in terms of territories and natural resources but on the supply of rice in the global market.
The Philippines is set to import a record-high 3.1 million metric tons of rice this year, already nearing China’s requirements amid a new regime for Filipinos’ main staple.
This year, China is importing 3.15 million MT, lower from the earlier projection of 3.4 million MT.
In the latest report of the United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS), the Philippines is emerging as one of the top global importers of rice, nearly at par with China.
Rice imports of the country have nearly quadrupled to 3.1 million MT for 2019 or seven percent of total global rice imports from just 800,000 MT three years ago.
In comparison, China’s share of global rice imports has almost reduced by half, to just over seven percent as well.
This even if China’s population is now at 1.4 billion compared with the 110 million population of the Philippines.
“While China rice imports continue to shrink, Philippine purchases provide much appreciated reprieve from nearby exporters in Southeast Asia,” USDA said.
“Vietnam is its primary supplier with a market share of about 70 percent, followed by Thailand, Pakistan and Burma. Nearly all of the Philippines rice imports are long grain milled rice, with a small amount of rough rice from China and India,” it added.
This year’s importation for the Philippines is 63 percent higher than the 1.9 million MT imports in 2018.
In March 2019, the Philippines implemented the Rice Tariffication Act which led to a considerable increase in imports and, consequently, decline in domestic prices.
Rice is a staple food in the country and the law is intended, in part, to spur imports in order to quell domestic unrest caused by inflation.
While this helped lower inflation, USDA said the adjustment to rice liberalization remains a challenge for the Philippines.
“As a result of low prices, some rice farmers could shift to other crops such as corn. At the same time, the Philippine government is expanding subsidies and providing aid to farmers impacted by low prices,” USDA said.
“With a forecast for adequate production and large stocks, Philippine rice imports are expected to decline in 2020, but still remain above the fiveyear average,” it added.
Further, higher imports are also expected despite a significant increase in local output as domestic consumption remains to be in an upward trend.
Production of milled-rice this year is seen inching up by two percent to 12.2 million MT from the 12 million MT in 2018.
Further, rice consumption has been raised to 14.6 million MT from 14.1 million MT last year as rising food prices are forcing less affluent Filipinos to consume more rice and less meat and vegetables.