Seventy-one percent rise in volume of rice imports to Philippines, totaling 1.2 million tonnes in 2014, expected to be key driver of recovery as well as new high for global traffic this year, FAO says

MANILA, Philippines , April 14, 2014 () – A 71-per-cent jump in the volume of rice imports to the Philippines, totaling 1.2 million metric tonnes in 2014, is expected to be a key driver of a recovery as well as a new high for global traffic this year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In its first rice forecast issued this year, the FAO predicted a 5.4-per-cent rise in the volume of cross-border trade to reach 39.3 million MT from the estimated 37.3 million MT in 2013.

"That is an increase of more than one million tonnes on the 38 million tonnes foreseen just four months ago-a new high," FAO assistant director general Hiroyuki Konuma said in a statement.

On top of that, global yearend inventory of milled rice is expected to grow for the ninth consecutive year to an estimated 180.5 million tonnes in 2013, 3.2 per cent higher than the volume at the end of the previous year.

"Given expectations of an overall ample supply in major exporting countries, these harvests could exert additional pressure on export quotations," the report said.

"Against this backdrop, buying decisions will play an important role," it added. "The government of the Philippines has already announced plans to conduct an import tender in April."

The National Food Authority has called for tenders for a total of 800,000 MT, the biggest volume in a year so far during the Aquino administration.

With some 400,000 MT having arrived as part of a previous tender that closed last December, the Philippines expects a total of at least 1.2 million MT in 2014.

With only 700,000 MT brought in during 2013, Philippine imports are expected to balloon by at least 70 per cent this year.

Based on the FAO forecast, the Philippines would account for the eighth-largest import volume in 2014.

China is expected to remain as the biggest rice importer, with shipments seen rising to 3.3 million MT from the estimated 2.7 million MT imported last year.

According to the FAO, the other big importers are Nigeria (2.8 million MT), Iran and Iraq (1.5 million MT each), Saudi Arabia and South Africa (1.4 million MT each), and Cote d'Ivoire (1.3 million).

However, among the top importers, the Philippines showed the biggest yearly increase in inbound shipments.

The UN agency noted that ample supply in exporting countries, due to large harvests adding to large inventories, were intensifying competition for markets.

The FAO's latest Rice Market Monitor report point to a third consecutive season of subdued growth in global palay (rice grain) output, pencilled in at 0.8 per cent over the 2013 estimate to reach 751 million tonnes this year.

© 2014 dpa

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