Thursday, March 27, 2008

Philippines and Vietnam ink rice supply accord

The Philippines could be assured of 1.5 million metric tons of rice imports annually from Vietnam starting this year, barring natural disasters and harvest losses in that country.

MalacaƱang, in a statement, announced that President Arroyo witnessed Wednesday the exchange of instrumentalities between the Philippines and Vietnam on a three-year agreement on the sidelines of the Philippine Reform Agenda Forum organized by the World Bank (WB) at the Fontana Conference Center in Clark Freeport in Pampanga province.

The Memorandum of Agreement on (MOA) was earlier signed by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and Vietnamese Industry and Trade Minister Yu Huy Hoang, said the Palace statement.

Yap reportedly said the agreement with Vietnam would help beef up the National Food Authority's (NFA) stockpile and guarantee enough stock of rice amid the tightening of supply in the world market, said the report.

The statement said that the rice supply agreement between the two member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states that the "Vietnamese government agrees to sell, unless under circumstances of natural disaster and harvest loss, and the Philippines agrees to buy up to 1.5 million metric tons of Vietnamese white rice annually starting 2008, subject to market and production conditions and to terms allowable under applicable laws of both countries."

Officials of the two countries reportedly also agreed to take "strict measures" to stop illegal rice trading between the two countries.

The statement said that Vietnam Southern Food Corp. and the NFA are the agencies of their respective governments authorized to implement the terms of the MOA, which will be in effect for three years.

The agreement will be automatically renewed for another three years, unless terminated by either of the parties through diplomatic channels six months prior to the intended date of termination.

Vietnam and the Philippines signed the agreement "in order to ensure that the rice market is stable in both countries and to cushion the adverse effects of climate change, pest infestation, drought, floods and other calamities that are being experienced and may hereafter be experienced by the ASEAN countries," said the statement.