China and the Philippines are poised to be the world’s top rice importers in 2021, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service.
In USDA’s latest report on world rice production, China is still projected to be the world’s top rice importer, with USDA expecting the nation to import 3.2 million metric tons.
The Philippines, meanwhile, is seen to import 2.1 million MT of rice.
Both countries were initially expected to have lower import requirements for the year at 2.9 million MT and 2 million MT, respectively.
The adjusted figures were due to strong demand.
For the Philippines, USDA also attributed the increased import figures to the reduced Most Favored Nation tariff rate. In May, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order (EO) No. 135, which lowered the MFN tariff to 35% on imported rice.
“The Philippines is expected to be the second largest importer in 2021, and recently announced a change to its import tariffs that have the potential to shift its suppliers,” USDA said.
“Traditionally, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members Vietnam and Thailand have been the most prominent exporters [to the Philippines] given the proximity, established trade relationships, and ability of these countries to provide government-to-government agreements during the period of quantitative restrictions,” USDA added.
“However, since 2019, Vietnam has become the primary rice supplier to the Philippines due to its lower prices.”
Rice imports from Vietnam are seen to be lower at 6.3 million MT, due to increased competition with other countries such as India.
“Non-ASEAN countries, including India and Pakistan, have more competitive prices and the reduced tariffs would result in lower landed prices,” USDA said.
But USDA also noted that non-ASEAN countries in Asia must work on consumer awareness and build business relationships in the Philippines to get a significant share of the market.
On Monday, June 7, the Department of Finance said in a statement that the EO would enable the Philippines to diversify rice sources while maintaining stable supply at affordable prices.
“I think there will be a shift in the imports of Thai and Vietnamese rice, and Burmese (Myanmar) rice, to rice from other countries where the value is much lower. Just keep an eye on that,” Dominguez told Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Dominguez, a former agriculture chief, cited India as a possible source of affordable rice imports. – Rappler.com