Manila. The Philippines' state grains agency has approved permits for local rice traders to import 641,080 tonnes of the staple grain from Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and India, it said in a notice posted on its website on Wednesday (14/12).
The approved imports, which must be brought in by Feb. 28, 2017, account for 80 percent of the maximum volume of 805,200 tonnes that private traders are allowed to bring in under an annual country-specific quota scheme.
Private traders will import 284,780 tonnes of rice from Thailand; 294,020 tonnes from Vietnam; 56,140 tonnes from Pakistan; and 6,140 tonnes from India, the National Food Authority (NFA) said after evaluating all applications.
The shipments will boost the rice supply in the country, which has remained ample this year thanks to the NFA's rice imports in 2015 and in recent months.
The NFA has a stand-by authority to import another 250,000 tonnes of rice in addition to the 250,000 tonnes it bought in August from Vietnam and Thailand.
Fresh demand from the Philippines, one of the world's biggest rice buyers, could underpin export prices particularly in Vietnam and Thailand, traditionally its main suppliers.
Rice export prices in India and Vietnam weakened last week on thin demand, but still failed to attract buyers, while prices rose slightly in Thailand amid a slowing harvest.