DA to continue protection for rice farmers


The Department of Agriculture (DA) said that it would keep implementing the minimum access volume (MAV) amid negotiations for the extension of the country’s quantitative restriction (QR) on rice.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that rice imports outside MAV will be slapped with higher tariff to protect local farmers from the influx of cheaper rice. The trade barrier expired in June this year.

“So far, there’s no opposition to our continued imposition of MAV. I think other rice producing countries were more interest in the negotiations for the extension of the quantitative restriction on rice,” he added.

MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter into the Philippines at reduced tariffs. In the previous QR extension, the Philippines agreed to increase its minimum access volume for rice to about 350,000 metric tons, and reduced tariffs on rice to 40 percent from the previous 50 percent.

Manila has been lobbying with its Southeast Asian neighbors and other major trade partners for the retention of the QR on rice, which will expire by June 30, citing the need to prepare Filipino farmers for international trade and to achieve rice self-sufficiency.

An extension of the quantitative restriction will allow the Philippines to limit the volume of rice that can be imported by the government every year, preventing the influx of cheap rice from other countries.

The government is asking for a five-year extension, but may only get another three-year extension like that of Korea.

“We are asking until 2015, but at the rate of the negotiation process, it may take as long before we complete all discussions,” Alcala said.

For the Philippines to get the nod on the QR extension, rice-producing countries affected by the restriction can request for concessions/market access for the importation of certain products—not limited to rice. The DA chief noted that only Vietnam wants an allocation under the country-specific rice importation quota of the MAV in exchange for support to the Philippines’ bid for the extension of its QR on rice imports.

“At present, only Vietnam has expressed intention to negotiate for the extension,” Alcala said.

“The negotiations for QR are still ongoing. We are now evaluating the request of Vietnam to be included in the country-specific quota under the minimum access volume (MAV),” he added.

At present, Manila has a country-specific quota for Thailand with an allocation of 98,000 MT for this year, China with 25,000 MT, India with 25,000 MT and Australia with 15,000 MT. Meanwhile, Alcala said that they are also studying the possibility of imposing tariff on rice should the World Trade Organization reject their request for the extension of the QR.

“We can also impose tariff on rice. But we are still studying the legal side of the issue. For now, we will keep implementing the minimum access volume,” he said.


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