Philippines set to import 1.2 million tons of rice as caps removed

The Philippines scrapped its two-decade-old caps on imports after consumers were hit hard by high prices including that of rice, which is at the heart of the country’s staple diet. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Philippines set to import 1.2 million tons of rice as caps removed

  • President Rodrigo Duterte in October ordered the ‘unimpeded’ importation of rice after the country’s inflation shot up
  • Lawmakers have approved the bill removing the import cap on rice imports and replacing it with tariffs

MANILA: Rice traders in the Philippines are set to import about 1.2 million tons of the staple food, a state grains agency spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday, as the Southeast Asian country lifts a two-decade-old cap on purchases.
Bigger rice purchases by the Philippines, already one of the world’s top importers and consumers of the grain, could underpin export prices in Vietnam and Thailand, traditionally its key suppliers.
Prices in Vietnam fell last week ahead of the country’s largest harvest this month, while the Thai market is likely to see additional supply toward the end of January from the seasonal harvest.
President Rodrigo Duterte in October ordered the “unimpeded” importation of rice after the country’s inflation shot up to 6.7 percent in September and October, the highest in nearly a decade, partly due to food prices.
The National Food Authority (NFA) has approved initial applications from 180 rice traders for permits to import a total of 1.186 million tons of either 5-percent or 25-percent broken white, the NFA spokeswoman said.
“We have not set any deadline for accepting applications to import rice. There’s no more limit,” she said.
Importers are allowed to bring in rice from any country, but grains from Southeast Asian suppliers will be charged a tariff of 35 percent while those from elsewhere will face a 50-percent charge.
Lawmakers have approved the bill removing the import cap on rice imports and replacing it with tariffs. Duterte will “most likely” sign it into law “soon,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Tuesday.
Philippine inflation eased in November and December, and the rice tariffication law could help curb it this year by as much as 0.7 percentage point, the central bank has said. Rice is the biggest food item in the country’s consumer price index.


Bank lending for ‘real economy’ key to boost China growth: central bank official

Updated 28 min 57 sec ago
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Bank lending for ‘real economy’ key to boost China growth: central bank official

  • ‘The central bank doesn’t wish to use administrative methods to require banks (to lend)’
  • Quantitative easing is neither necessary nor possible at the moment

SHANGHAI: China should encourage its banks to support smaller, private firms in the real economy, rather than forced lending or policies such as quantitative easing, a state newspaper quoted a central bank official as saying on Saturday.
“The central bank doesn’t wish to use administrative methods to require banks (to lend),” Sun Guofeng, head of the monetary policy department at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), told the Financial News, a bank publication.
“It wants to establish positive encouragement mechanisms though monetary policy tools to encourage banks to actively increase their support for the real economy, especially toward smaller and privately-owned firms,” Sun said.
The comments come a month after Sun wrote a commentary in which he argued that problems with timely capital replenishment, bank liquidity gaps and poor rate “transmission” are three major constraints on banks’ supply of credit.
In the interview with the Financial News, Sun said monetary policy transmission had “noticeably improved,” showing that steps to enhance transmission mechanisms had been effective.
He said the central bank would increase the strength of innovation in monetary policy tools.
Perpetual bond issuance “is only one breakthrough” in reducing capital constraints on banks, Sun said, adding that “other methods” could be used in the future.
He said that quantitative easing was neither necessary nor possible at the moment, noting that under China’s financial system the significance of the central bank buying Chinese treasury bonds on the secondary market is limited, and that the PBOC is barred from buying the instruments on the primary market.
China’s banks made the most new loans on record in January following a series of moves to boost lending as authorities try to prevent a sharp slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.