Allow entry of privately imported rice, NFA told

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The inter-agency National Food Authority Council on Wednesday ordered the management of the state-run grains agency to allow the entry of the remaining volume of rice under an earlier private sector-led importation to ensure enough buffer stocks ahead of the lean season.

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“We have already ordered the NFA management to sign the remaining import permits covering 54,000 metric tons from the 2016 minimum access volume [MAV] that are already in our domestic ports, and publish the extension until June for the remaining 20,000 MT to augment our industry stocks,” NFA Council Chairman Leoncio Evasco said in a statement.

The NFA Council earlier approved to extend the MAV arrivals until March 31, from the original deadline of February 28.

But NFA Administrator Jason Aquino rejected calls by traders to extend the deadline for the remaining volume of rice to be imported under MAV, saying the entry of the imported rice would significantly affect the farmgate
prices of locally produced rice.

A total of 211 farmer cooperatives and private businessmen applied for the importation of 692, 340 metric tons of rice under the MAV, a commitment under the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Out of the approved MAV volume, a total of 433,699 metric tons arrived as of February 27, 2017.

Instead of extending the arrival period for the remaining MAV volume, Aquino pushed for a government-to-government rice purchase agreement to restock state-owned warehouses.

MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce such as rice allowed to enter the Philippines at reduced tariff of 35 percent, while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates of 50 percent and would need approval by the NFA.

Manila allows the entry of some 805,000 MT under MAV, which usually are alloted for traders and importers.
This year’s private sector importation under MAV, according to Evasco, may be the last of its kind, noting the expiration of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice on June 30, 2017.

He earlier said the Philippines will be operating under a tariff-based restriction to protect local palay (unhusked rice) farmers once the country’s quantitative restriction expires in July this year, adding that economic managers are bent on amending domestic laws governing tariffication of rice.

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