No more rice import permits to be approved until year-end


Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the Department of Agriculture (DA) would no longer approve any rice import permit for this year, stressing that local production in stock as well as the volume of imports were already more than enough to meet the country’s demand.

In a phone interview on Friday, the agriculture chief said they were expecting rice imports to hit 2.3 million metric tons (MT) by year’s end, or 23-percent lower than last year’s record of 3 million MT.

It was also in 2019 when the Philippines was distinguished as the world’s biggest rice importer, edging out China with a population of 1.4 billion as it only imported 2.5 million MT of rice.

“We already stopped approving [permits] and we’re not expecting anymore this year,” Dar said. “We have more than enough.”

The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), under the DA, oversees the approval of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) issued to traders and importers.

Data as of September showed that the BPI already issued 2,439 SPSICs this year against 2,324 SPSICs last year. It has usually been the case that not all these permits are used, although the number of applications may provide a good insight as to how traders are perceiving the current market.

All told, DA’s computation of the national inventory of rice showed that available stocks could last for about 88 days by January of next year, even when typhoons managed to wipe out eight days of the country’s equivalent consumption.

It follows that any shortfall in the staple may be imported following the passage of the rice tariffication law as the agency also tries to boost local production through the rice competitiveness enhancement program.

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