Philippines gets Vietnam commitment for continuous rice supply

Reuters

Posted at Apr 03 2020 09:22 AM

People buy rice at a residential street market in Manila, Feb. 7, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The Philippines said Thursday it secured Vietnam's commitment for continuous rice supply, which may include 300,000 tons in imports under an existing bilateral trade agreement.

Vietnam, the world's third-largest rice exporter, stopped signing new deals as it checks whether it has sufficient domestic supply to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he received a letter from Deputy Minister Le Quoc Doanh of Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Development 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.

Dar said early this week that about 1.38 million tons of rice imported by Philippine traders were undelivered, including 1.25 million tons ordered from Vietnam.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Tuesday his country needed to sell rice but exports must be controlled to ensure food security.

Dar sought to allay concerns about a tightening of domestic supply at a time when many parts of the country have been locked down to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"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 Philippine government this week said it was looking to import 300,000 tonnes of rice to ensure sufficient domestic supply of the staple while it seeks to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country.