MANILA - The Philippines will ask its neighbors in Southeast Asia to "refrain from imposing trade restrictive measures" to ensure supplies will not run out amid the mass quarantine in the country, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Friday.
In a public address, Nograles said the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will work with their trading partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to ensure contracts between them will be fulfilled, continuing the flow of supplies despite tough travel measures imposed throughout the region.
If necessary, the Philippines will import another 300,000 metric tons of rice from its neighbors in the ASEAN and from other countries, including India and Pakistan, the Cabinet official said.
Earlier, Vietnam suspended its rice export contracts until March 28 to ensure it has sufficient supplies to cope during the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The world's third largest rice exporter has recorded 150 cases of COVID-19, as of Friday. It has suspended entry of all foreigners and put its citizens under quarantine.
As of March 26, Southeast Asian nations have recorded more than 2,500 cases of COVID-19, at least 79 of whom died.
Worldwide, the pathogen has reached more than 460,000 worldwide, with nearly 21,000 deaths, according to data of the World Health Organization. -with a report from Reuters