PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. welcomed the suggestion of Vietnam for a five-year rice importation arrangement, saying it would stabilize rice supply and pricing in the Philippines amid the current volatility in rice supply.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh suggested during a bilateral meeting with President Marcos on Thursday the creation of a five-year rice supply agreement with Vietnam exporting rice to the Philippines.
During the bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit here in Jakarta, Pham said, “I would suggest that the Ministries of Trade and Agriculture of the two countries will work together so that we can come up with a five-year agreement on supply of rice and actually… the rice will be determined by the market.”
As a response, the President said he recognized the market’s current volatility and the need for adjustment by every country.
“However, the suggestion of a longer term arrangement is an important one because just having that as an assurance will stabilize the situation, not only for the Philippines, but for all of us in the region,” Marcos told Pham.
“But we will work continuously. We have managed what we have before [inaudible] to an agreement in terms of the rice importation by the Philippines and I am very confident that we will once again come to a consensus and agree.”
The Philippines signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the Supply of Vietnamese Rice to the Philippines in May 2008, with Vietnam selling to the Philippines up to 1,500,000 metric tons of Vietnamese rice from 2008 to 2010.
But the passage of the Rice Tariffication Act (RA 110203) in March 2019 liberalized commercial rice importation by the Philippines by replacing quantitative restrictions with a general tariff.
The law also effectively barred government-to-government import arrangements under the National Food Authority (NFA).
Despite those developments, the Philippines’ bilateral rice trade with Vietnam has remained healthy and unimpeded with Vietnam supplying around 90 percent of the Philippines’ rice imports.
Vietnam exported 4.84 million metric tons of rice worth US$2.58 billion from January to July 2023.
For the first five months of this year, the Philippines imported 1.5 million tons of rice from Vietnam, worth US$772.4 million, which is equivalent to 42.3 percent of Vietnam’s total rice exports for the said period.
Marcos also mentioned during the meeting the possibility of a fishery and maritime cooperation with Vietnam to protect the livelihood of the ordinary fisherfolk.
“That’s why the agreement that we are proposing is very important because it should not limit itself only to security and defense issues but also on the fishing rights,” Marcos said.
“So again we have an understanding between the two countries so that we will not have any problems between your fishermen and ours.”