By Czeriza Valencia, The Philippine Star | 02/26/2013 7:45 AM
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines intends to gradually raise the volume of rice exports to 300,000 metric tons (MT) by 2016 from the initial volume that will be shipped out this year to match the quantity of imported rice and narrow down the rice trade deficit.
In a phone interview yesterday, Agriculture assistant secretary and National Rice program coordinator Dante Delima said some 50 to 100 metric tons (MT) of premium rice varieties would be shipped to Hong Kong, Macau, and Europe within the year.
To be shipped are heirloom rice varieties from Benguet as well as colored rice varieties from Quezon province and Mindanao region.
By 2014, the volume of premium rice exports would be increased to 100,000 MT and then up to 300,000 metric tons by 2016.
"This can narrow the deficit because we will be importing cheap rice and exporting premium rice,” said Delima.
The Philippines committed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) a minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons of rice imports subject to 40 percent duty. Imports outside of MAV are slapped a 50 percent tariff.
Delima said increasing rice exports vis-a-vis the imports would prevent a possible drop in prices due to the influx of cheap rice from neighboring Southeast Asian countries.
Delima said that as the government lowers rice imports this year, there would be a clamor for exportation under the MAV.
The Philippine has been steadily decreasing its rice imports.
In 2012, the Philippines allowed the importation of some 500,000 MT of rice for 2012, around 120,000 MT of which was imported by the National Food Authority (NFA) to serve as buffer stock.
In 2011, the Philippines imported 860,000 MT of rice – 600,000 MT of which was imported by the private sector while farmers groups imported 60,000 MT.
The NFA imported the balance.
In 2010, the Philippines imported a record 2.45 million MT.
This year, the government aims to import between 150,000 to 200,000 MT to be used as buffer stock.