• 11 traders eye bidding for rice import deals

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    At least 11 international traders are vying to supply Manila’s lean season rice requirement, with at least five bidders seen splitting the supply agreement for 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice.

    NFA Deputy Administrator Tomas Escarez, chairman of the agency’s special bids and awards Committee, told reporters each trader could offer bids for any of the eight lots available, but only up to the maximum volume of 50,000 MT to allow smaller players to join.

    Manila is set to import a total of 250,000 MT of rice, through an open bidding or government-to-private sector scheme, to boost government buffer stocks during the lean season.

    Compared with a government-to-government deal, an open tender will allow as many foreign private entities outside the Philippines’ current bilateral agreements to bid for the supply of the country’s rice requirement.

    The NFA has allotted a P5.6-billion budget for the purchase of rice stocks.

    Of the total volume to be imported by NFA, about 100,000 MT will be discharged in the port of Manila; 50,000 MT in Batangas; 25,000 MT each in Tabaco, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro City; 20,000 MT at Poro Point in La Union; 15,000 MT in Davao City and 10,000 MT in General Santos City.

    The total volume, which is duty-free under the under the agency’s tax expenditure subsidy, is expected to arrive in August until September.

    Interested bidders include Olam International Ltd., Ponglarp Co. Ltd., Thai Hua Co. Ltd., Vietnam Southern Food Corp. II, Gentraco Corp., Gia International Corp., Louis Dreyfus Co., Vietnam Northern Food Corp. (Vinafood I), Capital Cereals Co. Ltd., Asia Golden Rice Co. Ltd. and Thai Granlux International, Inc.

    Given the relatively “low turnout” of interested bidders, Escarez said the NFA was hoping more traders would join the tender on July 25.

    “As far as the government is concerned, it wants more bidders,” he said during the pre-bidding news conference in Quezon City on Thursday.

    The official said the NFA would continue to accept applications to bid up to before the opening of bid offers on July 25.

    Lawyer Rachel Miguel, special assistant to NFA Administrator Jason Laureano Aquino, echoed Escarez’s sentiment, saying more bidders were needed to make the tender more competitive.

    “We have 8 to 10 lots and 11 bidders. We are not saying kulang [it’s not enough] but we would like to have more because this scheme is precisely to have more,” Miguel said.

    Several traders who were present during the pre-bidding conference expressed concern over the limited volume to be awarded to each winning bidder.

    In the previous open tender conducted by the NFA, only five bidders submitted bids, but were allowed to compete for the entire 800,000 MT. Vietnamese state firms won the supply contracts.

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