THE opening up of the Philippine rice market will whet traders’ appetite for cheaper staple, pushing the country’s total rice imports this year to a record high of 2.8 million metric tons (MMT), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.
This would be the second consecutive year that the Philippines would become the second-biggest buyer of the staple since the 2008 rice price crisis, USDA data showed.
The country’s projected total rice purchase from abroad this year is expected to rise at an annualized rate of 12 percent to 2.8 MMT, eclipsing the nearly 2.4 MMT it bought in 2008.
In its monthly global grains situation report, the USDA revised upward its 2019 import forecast for the Philippines from the earlier estimated 2.6 MMT. The Philippines imported 2.5 MMT of rice last year, USDA data showed.
The USDA attributed the double-digit increase in imports to the “rapid” purchases abroad by the private sector after the liberalization and deregulation of the Philippines’s rice trade.
“The quantitative restrictions on rice imports have been replaced with tariffs, with a tariff advantage for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member-countries,” the USDA said in its report published over the weekend.
“Consumption is expected to rise on both abundant local supplies and relatively low-priced imports,” it added.