RP talking to Vietnam about buying more rice

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2008 02:44 PM | Updated as of Jun 13 2008 10:44 PM

Reuters

The Philippines is negotiating with the Vietnamese government about buying an unspecified quantity of rice, taking advantage of a recent drop in international prices to boost stocks of its national staple.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told reporters on Friday that Manila, the world's biggest rice importer, had asked eight countries to submit offers but only Hanoi returned with terms.

Yap declined to say what volume or price was under discussion but said Manila was holding out for better conditions and would make a decision on a deal within seven days.

The Philippines and Hanoi have already signed an agreement for Vietnamese traders to supply up to 1.5 million tons of rice for this year but the Vietnamese government has previously said only around 1 million may be possible due to rising food inflation at home.

So far, the Philippine government has bought around 1.7 million tons of rice from overseas sources, mainly Vietnam and Thailand, at a total cost of around $1 billion. It wants to import around 2.1 million tons for this year.

Last month, Manila scrapped a tender for 675,000 tons of rice saying it wanted to wait for international prices of the grain, which hit record highs in late April, to decline as more supply reaches market.

Benchmark Thai rice prices fell to about $820 per ton FOB earlier this week, continuing a decline from a peak of about $1,080 in April.

The other seven countries asked to submit offers were Thailand, Indonesia, China, Japan, the United States, South Korea and Pakistan.