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April 2, 2008

Arroyo mulls buying Thai rice

The Philippines is in talks with Thailand for supplies this year and hopes to bring in shipments by June, Reuters quoted President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as telling reporters on a visit to Hong Kong.

"I already had some conversations with the officials of Thailand when I dropped by Thailand on the way to Davos (earlier this year). They said that they're willing to supply us," Arroyo said, adding some officials from Thailand may visit Manila on Friday.

Last week, the Philippines government signed a deal with Vietnam to import 1.5 million tonnes of rice.

"I think the 1.5 million metric tonnes from Vietnam will cover our needs but the timing of the delivery is important so if Thailand can assure that they can also deliver, that they still have (stocks) and that they can deliver by June, we will also order from Thailand," she said.

The Philippines wants to import up to 2.2 million tonnes of the national staple in 2008, its biggest purchase of rice in a decade. The Philippines imports around 10 percent of its annual needs and has bought around 1.2 million tonnes so far for this year. It has set an April 17 tender for 500,000 tonnes of rice for delivery between April and June.

The government wants to hold rice stocks enough for 30 days of consumption before July, when the supply of local rice dwindles. The state's National Food Authority (NFA) said it had stocks for 14 days as of March 20.

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