Rice import curbs in effect until 2017

Local agricultural production expanded by 1.2% in 2013

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Private-sector rice importers cannot flood the Philippine market with foreign supplies at their will since quantitative restrictions (QRs) on importation are still in effect, according to a coalition of agriculture industry groups.

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), citing World Trade Organization (WTO) documents, said in a statement Wednesday that restrictions on rice imports stand until 2017.

Sinag noted that the Philippines has filed with the WTO its “Request for a Waiver relating to Special Treatment for Rice,” asking for the continued effectiveness of restrictions, which was unchallenged in any of the WTO’s general council meetings held in 2013.

“No country has formally opposed the Philippines’ request for waiver,” said Sinag chair Rosendo So. “Of the eight countries having bilateral talks with the country since March of last year, six have already agreed to new terms for our QRs until 2017, including Australia, China, El Salvador, India, Pakistan and Vietnam.”

Based on this, according to Sinag, foreign suppliers can ship into the Philippines at least 350,000 metric tons of milled rice yearly.

“(This should) set the record straight and put to stop insinuations on the status of the country’s request for waiver,” So said.

“Lawyers (who represent consignees of allegedly smuggled rice from Vietnam) who are insisting on the expiration of the QRs are not even a party nor can they speak for and in behalf of any WTO member country,” he added.

He noted that a portion of the shipments from Vietnam, detained in Davao City, was released last week based on arguments that the restrictions have expired.

Citing the Switzerland-based intergovernmental body South Centre, Sinag said the only way for countries to contest the QRs currently in place is to seek redress through the WTO Dispute Settlement mechanism and for them to actually win the case.

Meantime, Philippine agricultural production grew by 1.2 percent to P777.8 billion at constant prices despite typhoons exacting significant damage to farms, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.

BAS data showed that, at current prices, output expanded by 3.5 percent to P1.5 trillion.

The crops subsector, which represented 51 percent of total output value, barely grew as it inched up 0.09 percent to P397 billion. Palay farmers posted a 2.3-percent increase in production to P156.2 billion.

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  • huey_4ph

    Philippine rice farmers can’t compete with low prices of imported rice. Fertilizer goes up, insecticides goes up, labor goes up, milling fess go up but the price of rice goes down because of the flood of cheap imported rice. It will put farmers of rice in Phils out of business and no one will buy their rice because they will be buying and selling all the cheap poor quality/poor taste rice from a foreign country putting their own people out of work. If they want cheaper rice the farmers in phils should be subsidized so they can have competitive prices. Do some research see what it costs to grow and mill a hector of rice and you will see phil farmers can’t compete with.Imported rice. I believe in free enterprise but lifting this restriction is a one sided slam dunk for Vietnam, Thailand, and China and for Philippines destroying rice as a agricultural industry.

  • daniboy2012

    Isa lang solusyon dyan….bawasan ang katakawan ng kanin…mas makakatipid at maganda sa katawan!!!!

  • joni_depp

    What government is doing is to create a privileged group of people who will manipulate prices of a food staple for their own gain. DA and NFA are, in effect, the masterminds behind the biggest rice cartel in the country. As a consequence, consumers are denied the benefit of free markets determining the price of rice. Now government has created an entitled few to dictate rice prices and profit from it. This is how corruption sets in. This is definitely not “daang matuwid”!

    • Ray

      I hope the WTO finally catches on to what the evil, despicable Philippine government has been doing all these years and slaps the country hard with penalties so these moron-fools we have in government will wake up and realize the world means serious business when it comes to open markets. Otherwise the Philippines can just withdraw from the WTO if it doesn’t want to abide by its rules and kiss goodbye to all its export income.

  • Ray

    Curb on importation isn’t this just a way of restricting supply in order to jack up the price through disequilibrium of natural intersection of supply/demand? In this, plainly, you can see how the Philippines is a slave state where the government exists only to extract and give nothing in return to its half-starved citizenry.

    • joni_depp

      You are correct, Sir! Clearly, consumers outnumber, by far, the so-called “agriculture industry groups”. Not only do these import curbs make rice much more expensive for all Filipinos, these curbs also open the door to corruption, of which Filipinos have a great penchant for. By closing the door to free-market supply, government is creating a privileged class which can manipulate rice prices for their own gain. This is not only monopolistic, it goes against the grain of competition which would allow consumers to benefit from lower prices and a wider array of choices.

  • alisto101

    May rice cartel dito sa Pinas, gusto nila na sila lang ang mag control ng bigas. . Kasabwat ang ilang NGA at NGO o cooperative. . walang hiya talaga. . .

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