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Apr 6, 2016 @ 1:58

Philippines can import extra 500,000 T rice: grains official

MANILA, April 5 (Reuters) – The Philippines can import another 500,000 tonnes of rice to boost state reserve stocks, a grains agency official said on Tuesday, as the government sought to mitigate the impact of an El Nino-linked drought on food supply.

Fresh demand from the Philippines, one of the world’s biggest rice buyers, could underpin export prices in neighboring Vietnam and Thailand, traditionally Manila’s main suppliers. President Benigno Aquino has given the state grains procurement agency, National Food Authority (NFA), a “standby authority” to import up to half a million tonnes for this year’s requirements, NFA Administrator Renan Dalisay said.

With Aquino’s approval, the NFA can buy rice under a “government-to-government” deal, Dalisay said. Under such an arrangement, the agency can negotiate deals only with Vietnam, Thailand, or Cambodia. The new allowance would be on top of the 750,000 tonnes bought by the NFA and shipped within the past six months from Vietnam and Thailand. Dalisay said the timing of the additional purchases will still have to be decided by the NFA Council, a government panel composed of the country’s economic managers.

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