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President Marcos lifts barriers on rice imports as prices skyrocket

23 April 2024

An exceptional heat wave linked to El Niño is negatively impacting the cost of food staples. Rice now costs 52 pesos per kilo, an anomaly at this time of the year, harvest season. By presidential order, the head of state gives the green light to streamline sanitary procedures for other agricultural products as well.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has ordered the relevant departments to reduce customs barriers to food imports to deal with soaring prices of essential food products like rice in a country sweltering from a scorching heat wave.

The availability of basic food items for all segments of the population is fundamental for the credibility of presidential policies.

By eliminating non-tariff barriers, such as quotas, import licensing and regulations designed to protect local producers, the order will allow agricultural products to be imported more quickly.

These steps should have been implemented earlier and failure to act sooner has weighed on imports and ultimately consumers.

“It is imperative to further streamline administrative procedures to foster transparency and predictability of policies on the importation of agricultural products in order to help ensure food security, maintain sufficient supply of agricultural goods in the domestic market, and improve local production,” Marcos said in his Administrative Order 20 dates 18 April.

The measure also includes new rules concerning faster import of other agricultural products, like sugar, as well as fish products.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the retail price of rice of the most widely consumed varieties rose this week between one and two pesos per kilo over last week, at a time – that of harvest – when prices tend to drop.

The main food on Philippine tables now costs as much as 52 pesos (US$ 0.90) per kilogram. The earlier outlook was for a slight decline in imports to 3.9 million tonnes.

Whether due to speculation or the potential instability associated with the El Niño, the price of locally produced rice has come to matched that of imported rice or even exceeded it.

Source : asianews