Philippines, Cambodia in initial talks for rice supply

Reuters

Posted at Oct 29 2010 08:49 PM | Updated as of Oct 30 2010 04:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Cambodia has offered to sell at least 100,000 tonnes of rice annually to Manila as it faces a supply surplus, but no deal has been reached yet, the head of the Philippines state grain agency said on Friday.

Angelito Banayo told Reuters Cambodia has a surplus of 1 to 1.2 million tonnes of paddy rice which it can sell to other countries.

He said the Philippines, the world's biggest rice buyer, was open to possibly purchasing the grain from its Southeast Asian neighbour.

Banayo had met with Dr. Sok Siphana, advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia, on Thursday to discuss food security issues.

"The reason for their coming over was basically to find out what are the demands of importing countries such as us. It's basically exploratory," he said in an interview.

Cambodia, which is trying to develop its rice export sector, has offered to sell at least 100,000 tonnes per year to the Philippines, but details still need to be worked out.

"We will not be able to export in this number right away but we will start with what we have," Mao Thura, secretary of state of Cambodia's Commerce Ministry told Reuters, adding state-owned rice exporting firm Green Trade Company would be the shipper.

The Philippines, which imported a record 2.45 million tonnes of the commodity this year, usually buys the grain from Vietnam and Thailand.

A strong typhoon last week was estimated to have brought minimal damage to rice crops in northern Philippines and officials said there was no need for more imports this year.

Banayo said the Philippines was not in a rush to buy rice for its 2011 needs. The government will decide in November or December the volume it will import for next year.

"I can afford to wait until prices go down. If prices begin to soften, then I might buy," he said.

Thon Virak, director general of Green Trade, told Reuters Cambodia had suggested it could export 200,000 tonnes of rice but details were still being worked out, adding that there was already approval from the Philippine government.