Thailand Urges Philippines to Comply with Earlier Rice Import Commitment

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Thailand has urged the Philippines to comply with its commitment to buy rice from them, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said.

Domingo, who attended the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Brunei, said that he held bilateral talks with his Thai counterpart during the event and the discussion covered the Philippine government's commitment to import at least 367,000 tons of rice from Thailand subject to price consideration. The country is also expected to import 50,000 tons of premium-grade Thai rice.

But since the government has passed on the rice importation burden to the private sector, rice importation from Thailand has so far amounted to nothing. The private sector has preferred to import rice from Vietnam because it has cheaper price.

Thailand also mulls negotiating for an increase in its rice-import quota to the Philippines to more than 100,000 tons to compensate for its decision to maintain its import tariff for at 40 percent for another five years through 2017. In return, the Philippines must increase the Country Specific Quotas for Thailand and other rice-exporting countries. Currently, Thailand is allocated a quota of 98,000 tons under WTO rules.

Under the WTO and ASEAN Free Trade Area, the Philippine import tariff on Thai rice shipments beyond the import quota is 40 percent for 2010-2012, and will be reduced to 35 percent in 2015.

Meanwhile, Domingo said that the discussion at the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting focused on the expansion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation to attain a higher form of economic integration and to include services and investments. …