RP Scraps Pledge to Buy Thailand Rice
Byline: MELODY M. AGUIBA
The government has scrapped a commitment to buy a fixed volume of rice from Thailand as no agreement has been reached between both countries for a tradeoff on the Philippines's request to raise sugar's bound tariff to 80 percent.
Agriculture Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo Jr. disclosed that the government is not committed to buy any fixed volume of rice from Thailand for 2004 even if the Philippines imported a fixed volume of 200,000 metric tons (MT) from Thailand last year through a negotiated purchase on top of separate purchases subjected to competitive bidding.
"We don't' have a commitment to import," Lorenzo said.
And even if the country entered a commitment with Thailand in exchange for the Philippines' increase in sugar tariff, he said that any commitment can be negotiated and cancelled, he said.
Archie B. Amarra, executive director of the Sugar Master Plan Foundation Inc. (SMPF), said in an interview that an agreement between the Philippines and Thailand has not been consummated since the country no longer needs to import sugar.
"The agreement was not reached. …