Traders call for review of rice tariffication
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Federation of Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. urged President Duterte to review the Rice Import Liberalization Law, saying it is drastically affecting farmers. 

In a press briefing on Friday, FCCCII president Henry Lim Bon Liong said farmers are already suffering because of the slump in the buying price of rice.

“I join the call of industry stakeholders to review the Rice Import Liberalization Law because this is affecting our Filipino farmers very much with the continuous decline of palay’s buying price. We cannot ignore the urgent concerns of farmers,” Lim said at the Pandesal Forum held at Kamuning Bakery in Quezon City. 

The rice industry, he said, contributes P400 billion a year to the economy.

“Another problem facing our farmers is the El Niño phenomenon that has affected over 140,000 rice farmers and has resulted to more than P4 billion loss in the rice sector. The corn industry has also lost more than P3.8 billion based on figures from the Department of Agriculture,” Lim said.

Thus, he said there is a need to support the farmers and modernize the agriculture and fishery sectors, noting that efficiency improvements would boost harvest. 

“We at FFCCCII appeal to government and all sectors to let us all work together  as a national team in the same boat that we improve the business and investment environment of the Philippines to encourage entrepreneurs, our MSMEs, our manufacturers and our exporters, our workers, our professionals, the rural farmers and fishermen, our OFWs to build up a strong and globally competitive economy,” Lim said. 

He believes high rice tariffs should be imposed on imports again – as much as 100 percent – even as a temporary measure such as during a harvest cycle to protect the industry.

The government has allowed the opening of the rice market as part of measures to bring down rice prices.

Nearly three months since the opening of the rice market, prices continue to drop.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), prices of Filipinos’ main staple continued to be on the downward trend following the arrival of private sector imports.

The average wholesale price of well-milled rice is now at P39.44 per kilogram at the end of May, the PSA said.

The latest price is five percent lower than the P41.30 per kilo level from the same period a year ago while the weekly average retail price also decreased two percent to P43.10 per kilo.

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