The Philippines is likely to remain the world’s biggest rice importer by 2020.

The United States Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agriculture Service (USDA-FAS) made the statement after data reveals the massive importing activities of the country.

According to Phil Star, data shows that the country will be importing 2.7 million metric tons of rice in 2020. This is even higher than the number that China might pose at 2.4 million MT.

This is not a good trend; something that the country is trying to reverse or tone down for years.

However, despite the country’s efforts to lower its rice importation amid excessive supply as well as support for better local production next year, rice importation will remain higher than the five-year average.

Rice Imports Higher Than China’s

The Philippines is officially ending 2019 as the biggest rice importer, not just in the region but in the world.

As the country opened up the industry to liberalization, imports reached a record high of 3.2 million MT.

The USDA added that even if imports for China lessened, global trade remains unchanged.

This merely offset the higher imports for the Philippines and Ghana.

This year’s rice imports were 4x the figure in 2016, wherein the Philippines only imported 800,000 MT.

Rice imports of the Philippines this year also represented more than 7 percent of total global rice imports, so overlooking it is not easy.

More so when compared to the trends of China’s share of global rice imports.

China’s global rice imports decreased by 50%. The trend is quite astounding as China’s population ballooned to 1.4 billion.

The Philippines population in 2019 is only at 110 million.

Impact of Rice Tariffication Act

In March 2019, the Philippines enacted the Rice Tariffication Act. It contributed to the considerable increase in imports and reduced domestic prices.

While it was meant to temper domestic unrest because of inflation, adjustment to rice liberalization is a struggle to the Philippines.

On the one hand, it spurred imports of rice, a staple food in the country, and people cannot stand having a shortage of. It lowered its prices too.

On the other hand, there are questions about how it can affect domestic production.

Still, trends do show an upward movement in the country’s rice inventory, surging 43 percent to 2.28 million in MT in October.

This is likely to last for 71 days, given the average daily consumption rate of 32,000 MT of Filipinos.

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