PHL may not fill onion imports on tight conditions, USDA says


The Philippines is unlikely to meet a plan to import 21,060 tons of onions due to the tight requirements, including delivery before the end of January, which could favor Chinese suppliers due to proximity, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.

The Southeast Asian nation plans to purchase onions to tame domestic prices that have surpassed those of meat and helped push inflation to a 14-year high. The Philippines’s agriculture department has told importers they need to bring in shipments by January 27 and any late arrivals would be rejected. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is also the agriculture secretary.

The “extreme conditions attached to the unscheduled quota all but guarantee that it will not be filled and likely will not come close to filling,” USDA said in a report late Thursday. “For the trade that does flow, the government’s conditions greatly favor Chinese supplies despite China not being importers’ favored supplier,” it added.

Netherlands accounted for 48 percent of the Philippines’s onion imports, followed by China at 30 percent and India at 22 percent, according to the USDA, citing data from October 2021 to September last year. “Given the time restriction, proximity and shipping lanes, the measure gives strong favor to Chinese exporters over to those in Europe and India,” the agency said.

Manila’s agriculture department has also limited the entry of the agricultural commodity to five ports including two in the main Luzon island so it can strictly monitor arrivals.

The Philippines’s anti-graft agency has launched an investigation of agriculture officials over alleged anti-competitive practices following the onion price spike and a lawmaker has also sought a similar probe.

Image credits: Rusu Eugen Catalin |


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