The Philippines, the world’s second-largest importer of rice, has approved the importation of 3.844 million metric tons (MMT) of the staple as of end-August, but total shipment arrival is less than half of the volume applied by traders and importers.
Latest Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) data showed that the agency approved 4,091 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPS-IC) for rice imports from January to August, corresponding to a total volume of 3.844 MMT.
The approved volume for importation during the eight-month period was 2.86 percent lower than the 3.737 MMT approved by the BPI to import in the same period of last year.
BPI data showed that Elite Impex Distributor Inc. led all registered rice importers and traders in terms of applied rice import volume with 247,560 MT (220 SPS-ICs) followed by Nan Stu Agri Traders that was able to secure 232 SPS-ICs with a corresponding volume of 158,392 MT.
However, BPI data showed that despite the increase in applied import volume, the total rice import arrival from January to August fell by 1.13 percent to 1.66 MMT from 1.679 MMT recorded in the same period of last year.
BPI data showed that 127 eligible importers and traders imported rice from 13 countries including Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, China, India, Italy, Pakistan, among others.
Vietnam remained as the country’s top rice supplier during the eight-month period at 1.444 MMT followed by Myanmar at 120,908.9 MT, based on BPI data.
Davao-based Nan Stu Agri Traders led all importers in terms of import arrival as the company brought in 87,812 MT of staple during the eight-month period, based on BPI data. Lucky Buy and Sell, another Davao-based importer, was the second-largest importer of rice from January to August with a total import volume of 84,724 MT, based on BPI data.
The United States Department of Agriculture (DA) has maintained its rice import forecast for the Philippines at 2.1 MMT for this year and next year, making the country the second-largest buyer of the staple for three consecutive years.
The country’s rice imports this year declined on the back of record-level domestic rice harvest coupled by logistical problems due to global shipping problems such as lack of containers and vessels as well as high freight costs.
The BusinessMirror earlier reported that the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) is growing wary of shipment delays affecting the country’s rice imports.
Neda Undersecretary Mercedita A. Sombilla said they are monitoring the stretching delays in the country’s rice imports, a result of the global shipping problem arising from lack of vessels and containers and Covid-19-related mobility restrictions, but industry players and experts dismissed its possible adverse impact on the country’s supply of the staple.
Shipping industry players confirmed to the BusinessMirror that they are observing delays in the arrival of imports from Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, the country’s top rice supplier.
International reports are also noting a mounting pressure on Vietnam’s logistics system with port operations, such as loading and unloading of goods, being affected by the rising Covid-19 outbreaks in Ho Chi Minh City that has spread to southern provinces as well.
However, industry watchers and experts pointed out that the Philippines’s rice supply would not suffer any serious damage—or even the slightest impact—from Vietnam’s logistical problems as the country is on-track to hit record palay harvest of 20 MMT this year.