Farmers want higher rice tariff on non-ASEAN

By Madelaine Miraflor

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) has appealed to the government to revert back the tariff on rice imports from countries outside Southeast Asia on the back of their low volumes of shipments.


Citing data from the Bureau of Customs, FFF said that rice shipments from non-ASEAN countries declined despite the Philippine government’s decision in June cutting down the rice import tariff coming from these markets from 50 percent to 35 percent.

Customs data showed that only 11,951 metric tons of rice from non-ASEAN countries entered the country between June and August 2021 compared to 39,881 metric tons in the same period in 2020, FFF said.

“India and Pakistan, which were expected to increase their exports to the Philippines as a result of lower tariffs, actually scaled down their shipments to 4,607 metric tons, or less than a third of their deliveries between June and August in 2020,” FFF said.

“While the number of exporting countries increased from seven to ten during the EO’s [Executive Order 135] effectivity, new entrants like Australia, Sri Lanka and Taiwan brought in miniscule volumes. The percentage of non-ASEAN rice imports to total imports during the period actually shrank from 7 percent in 2020 to 1.8 percent in 2021,” it added.

Raul Montemayor, FFF national manager said that EO 135 failed to significantly expand the country’s sources of rice and did not generate more imports from non-ASEAN countries.

He also noted that only Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam supplied the country with rice with 25 percent brokens, equivalent to regular-milled rice, during the first three months of the EO.

“The non-ASEAN suppliers brought in high-grade and specialty rice varieties, such as Indian Basmati, Japanese sticky rice, and rice with 5 percent brokens, for sale to relatively well-to-do consumers at higher prices,” Montemayor said.

“Ordinary consumers did not gain anything from the reduced tariffs. Non-ASEAN imports were also too small to have any significant effect on prices or inflation rates,” he added.

The FFF calculated that the government has lost P28.7 million in tariff revenues so far due to the lower tariffs. This amount could have been added to rice tariff collections that have been earmarked for support programs for farmers affected by imports.

Instead, importers of non-ASEAN rice most probably pocketed the savings from lower tariffs.

“Given this outcome, President Duterte should immediately revoke EO 135. Clearly, it has failed to achieve its objectives. All that it has done is to give windfall profits to a few importers at the expense of farmers,” Montemayor said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (