By Tomas Marquez, DA StratComms
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has resumed rice exports to the Philippines and other members of ASEAN to maintain adequate food supply in the region and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We welcome the decision by Vietnam to resume its rice export policy and taking into account the difficulties faced by various stakeholders during this crisis,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
He thanked Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, who furnished him a copy of a letter by Vietnam Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh, dated 4 May 2020, assuring the Philippines of delivery of 400,000 metric tons (MT) of rice contracted in April.
In his letter, Minister Tran said that on April 28, 2020, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved the resumption of rice exports to the Philippines and other ASEAN countries, starting on May 1, 2020.
“I hope the new decision by our Prime Minister will contribute to the joint efforts by ASEAN Member States in maintaining adequate food supply to ASEAN Community to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen ASEAN’s internal unity,” Minister Tran said.
For his part, Secretary Dar said: “Indeed, Vietnam is making a valuable contribution in strengthening ASEAN cooperation and internal unity. We need to keep the regional market open for trade and ensure the sustainability of the supply chain among ASEAN member-states, especially for food and other essential goods.”
From January 1 to May 1, 2020, the Philippines has contracted 666,480 MT of rice from Vietnam, of which 218,300 MT has been delivered, leaving a balance of 448,180 MT, according to the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) that issues the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance (SPSIC) for rice imports.
“This means that Vietnamese rice exporters will commence fulfillment of their contracts with Philippine importers, and consider future supply deals under an existing bilateral trade agreement,” Secretary Dar said.
Since January 2020, the DA-BPI has issued SPSICs covering 2.7 million MT, of which about 729,000 MT has arrived, with 1.189 million MT to be delivered this month and the rest in succeeding months.
In a related development, Secretary Dar said that the DTI’s Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) has officially opened the government-to-government rice importation for the supply of 300,000 MT of rice, which will serve as buffer stock during the lean months.
The PITC has already sent communications to Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, India, and Cambodia, added Secretary Dar, who also serves as chairperson of the IATF Task Group on Food Security.