Manila. The Philippines' state grains procurement agency on Tuesday (29/05) gave the go-ahead for local traders to import up to 805,200 tons of rice under an annual quota scheme, which should boost domestic supply and keep rising prices in check.
The imports, which should be shipped in starting July, would bring total rice purchases approved this year to 1.3 million tons, including half-a-million tons that the National Food Authority (NFA) has bought to replenish its depleted buffer stock.
The Southeast Asian country, a frequent rice buyer, is seeking to stabilize retail prices of the national staple that have risen by as much as 7 percent from a year ago amid the absence of the low-priced NFA supply in the local market.
Higher rice prices have added pressure to Philippine inflation, which accelerated in April to the highest in at least five years.
The NFA expects its imports to start arriving this week.
Under the import guidelines posted on the NFA's website, traders are allowed to import 25 percent broken white rice or a better variety, with a 35 percent tariff. Delivery should be completed by February next year.
The country-specific quota scheme allows traders to import up to 293,100 tons from Vietnam and the same volume from Thailand.
They can buy up to 50,000 tons from China, another 50,000 tons from India, and the same volume from Pakistan.
Up to 15,000 tons can come from Australia, up to 4,000 tons from El Salvador and the balance of 50,000 tons from any country.