ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Philippines may import up to 1.2m tonnes off rice this year
THE Philippines, one of the world’s top rice importers, is set to buy 400,000 tonnes of the grain for delivery in the second quarter, and may need an additional 800,000 tonnes to cover this year’s requirements, a grains agency official said.
“This volume (400,000 tonnes) is required for the lean months, beginning July,” Renan Dalisay, National Food Authority (NFA) administrator, told Reuters.
Dalisay said the country may need to import an additional 800,000 tonnes to completely cover this year’s estimated gap between local harvest and consumption, and maintain a 30-day buffer stock.
The Philippines’ fresh demand could give a boost to rice prices in Vietnam and Thailand - the country’s main suppliers and the world’s third and second-biggest exporters respectively.
Prices in Vietnam, which usually gets the bigger slice of Philippine rice deals, eased last week on thin buying demand and limited fresh supply from an early harvest.
The NFA Council, a panel composed of the country’s top economic officials, will meet on Jan 26 to discuss and possibly approve import plans for this year, he added.
The NFA is looking at a deal with governments of either Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia for the additional 400,000-tonne supply in the second quarter.
Dalisay said another option is to allow private traders to ship in the approved volume.
“We’re looking at an annual gap of 1.7 million tonnes, including 1 million tonnes for buffer stock,” he said.
The Philippines expects El Nino-induced dry weather to impact rice production.
Dry weather and cyclones affected local paddy output last year, with total output estimated at 18.3 million tonnes, much lower than the government’s target of 20 million tonnes.
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