November 23, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

NFA Council says 11 express interest in July rice auction

ELEVEN exporters, mostly from Vietnam and Thailand, have expressed interest to participate in the government auction for the tax-free importation of 250,000 tons of rice, with the National Food Authority (NFA) still inviting more potential bidders.

“The intention of the NFA Council is for more private sector participation, not to allow shipments to be cornered by one supplier,” NFA Deputy Administrator and Special Bids and Awards Committee Chairman Tomas R. Escarez said during the agency’s pre-bidding conference on Thursday in Quezon City.

The NFA Council, the governing body that has the final say on the guidelines for rice importation, has divided the shipments into eight lots -- six with a volume of 25,000 tons and two of 50,000 tons. The specification is for well-milled long-grain white rice with a broken rate of 25%.

Prospective bidders may bid for any of the lots as long as the maximum quantity to be awarded per supplier cannot be higher than 50,000 metric tons.

“Eleven are interested. But we want more. From now, until the bid day, we can still accept applications,” Special Assistant to the NFA Administrator Rachel Miguel, a lawyer, said during the briefing.

The exporters that have so far expressed interest in the auction are Olam International Ltd., Ponglarp Co. Ltd., Thai Hua Co. Ltd., Vietnam Southern Food Corp. II, Gentraco Corp., Gia International Corp., Louis Dreyfus Company, Vietnam Northern Food Corp. (Vinafood I), Capital Cereals Co. Ltd., Asia Golden Rice Co. Ltd., and Thai Granlux International, Inc.

The bid deadline is 10 a.m. on the day of the auction, July 25.

The government has a budget of P5.6 billion for the procurement exercise, which is intended to reinforce rice inventories during the lean months.

However, Mr. Escarez said the grains agency will be paying an additional cost of 35% of the landed price.

The shipments are expected to arrive in tranches during the lean months; 120,000 tons until August and the remaining 130,000 tons in September.

On the issue of private sector-led importation which was approved earlier by the NFA Council, Mr. Escarez said the council has not approved a timetable but the arrival of the shipments under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme is proposed to arrive between December and February.

“We have a regular council meeting every third week of the month. We haven’t received a notice yet. Probably next week.” Mr. Escarez added.

The Philippines has an 805,200 ton MAV commitment for rice to the World Trade Organization with a 35% tariff within the quota, corresponding to the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement, and 40% out-of-quota. -- Janina C. Lim