MANILA - The Philippines' state grains procurement agency said on Monday private traders can import 187,000 tonnes of rice and shipments must arrive on or before Feb. 28.
The volume is on top of the expected purchases by the National Food Authority (NFA), which is looking initially at importing 600,000 tonnes to boost its stockpile for next year's requirements.
Traders may apply for import permits starting Dec. 28 until Jan. 31, the NFA said in a statement.
They can bring in rice under the government's Minimum Access Volume - Omnibus Rice Importation programme, which allows each importer to buy up to 5,000 tonnes from any country.
The programme covers only high-value varieties such as glutinous rice, jasponica rice, basmati rice, and other aromatic varieties. They can also import 5 percent broken, 10 percent broken, and 15 percent broken varieties.
In June, the government said it would loosen restrictions on rice imports starting next year, cutting tariff on grain shipped in by the private sector to 35 percent from 40 percent for a maximum annual volume of 805,200 tonnes.
The NFA bought more than 1.8 million tonnes from Vietnam and Thailand over the past 12 months, the biggest annual volume in four years, to shore up its buffer stocks as local retail prices soared to record highs amid tight domestic supply.