The Philippines said Thursday Vietnam gave its commitment to the continuous rice supply in the country through an existing bilateral trade agreement. This includes around 300,000 tons of rice imports.
Vietnam stopped signing new deals as it checks if they have a sufficient supply of rice for their country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the third-largest exporter in the world after India and Thailand.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Development, sent him a letter expressing Hanoi’s commitment to honor its existing supply contracts with Philippine importers.
“The government of Vietnam always considers rice trading with the Philippines is not only of economic importance, but also of significance for our good diplomatic relations between the two nations,” Le said in the letter, according to Dar.
Philippines turns to Vietnam for continuous rice supply
The Agriculture Secretary reported that about 1.38 million tons of imported rice in the country were undelivered. This included the 1.25 million tons purchased from Vietnam.
The Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Tuesday his country needed to sell rice, but they need to control the exports to ensure food security.
Vietnam’s rice exports rose 4.2% last year to 6.37 million tonnes. The largest buyers of Vietnam’s rice include the Philippines, China, and countries in Africa.
“Le also said that Hanoi is also working on possible governmental agreement with Manila on rice trade,” Dar said in a statement, without mentioning any volume.
The government this week said it was looking to import 300,000 tonnes of rice to ensure there is a sufficient supply of rice as the country fights the pandemic.
Rice farmers in the Philippines suffer
In 2019, rice farmers in the country cried for help as they compete with the high volume of imported rice in the market brought by the rice ratification law.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, insisted the Philippines “cannot be rice sufficient.”
Duterte remained firm on keeping the rice tarification law despite farmers’ cries over falling prices of palay, which dropped to as low as P15.94, the lowest in the last eight years.
The President said the bigger problem is if the country would have a “food crisis” if there would no enough supply of rice.
“I am not about ready to do that; I do not want to have a food crisis again. There might be a problem, it is just a serious problem, but if there is no more food for the people, that is different,” Duterte said.