MANILA — The pending application for extension of the Philippines’ rice quantitative restrictions (QR) would give farmers more time to be globally competitive, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Friday.
DA Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Segfredo Serrano, in a press briefing, said without the QR, local rice production will be drowned by imported rice which will displace local farmers.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Trade in Goods recently granted the Philippines’ request for a five-year extension of its QR on rice.
Serrano said the WTO Committee is set to recommend to the WTO General Council the extension of the Philippines’ rice QR up to 2017 when the Council meets in July.
The WTO General Council is expected to grant the request for the QR’s extension, he noted.
The country’s QR on rice was supposed to have expired in 2012.
“(The QR extension) makes us more competitive,” said Serrano.
“We project by 2017, we should be ready. That’s why we requested an extension of this kind for our farmers so that we can institute the support measures,” he added.
According to Serrano, the country has increased its minimum access volume (MAV) on rice to 805,200 tons from its previous 350,000 tons at 35 percent tariff.
MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter into the Philippines at reduced tariffs, while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates of 50 percent and would need approval by the National Food Authority (NFA).
As for country specific quotas, Serrano enumerated the following:
*Australia will obtain a concession of 15,000 metric tons (MT); China 50,000 MT; El Salvador 4,000 MT; India 50,000 MT; Pakistan 50,000 MT; Thailand 293,000 MT; and Vietnam 293,000 MT.
Rice supply and price worldwide is very volatile, with only 3-5 percent of total production available for trading.
At present, only South Korea and the Philippines make use of the QR.
“That is why we have to keep on producing with government support towards improved competitiveness, especially now that we are on the threshold of rice self-sufficiency,” the DA official said.
He further said that the government will remain committed to help rice farmers become competitive before deregulating the rice market.