NFA must negotiate to prevent rice smuggling
by Jennifer A. Ng
Aug. 2, 2012
THE National Food Authority (NFA) should be designated as the lone entity that will engage with trading partners when it comes to rice imports to prevent the smuggling of rice, a nongovernment organization (NGO) said on Wednesday.
Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) said the Senate did the right thing in investigating incidents of rice smuggling as it would give the government a chance to see what policies they can improve to prevent smuggling.
“We support whatever investigation the Senate is doing to curb the age-old problem of rice smuggling. More importantly, we hope that the Bureau of Customs’ intensified operation will result to the capture the so-called ‘big fish’ in this modus and help the government pinpoint the root of the problem of this illegal rice trade,” said Aurora Regalado, R1 Convenor in a statement.
The group called on the government to revise guidelines on the importation of rice and “build a mechanism” in which all rice imports will get into the country only under the NFA’s name.
“This will help the government easily monitor potential rice smuggling even from the ports and the government only needs to honestly enforce customs administration,” said Regalado.
Based on the data collected from the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics, R1 found 1.3 million bags of rice that were possibly smuggled into the country based on the data of the exports from Thailand and reportedly shipped to the Philippines and compared to the imported rice as received in the ports of the country in 2010.
R1 said the difference in exports and volume of rice received in the ports from Thailand and Vietnam and are possibly smuggled into the country was even higher in 2009 at 2.32 million bags of rice.
“Smuggling is a reality that goes way back and the government has to prove it can solve the problem by seriously putting in place an effective mechanism to help our local rice producers who are already suffering from unfair competition with rice, either imported or smuggled into the country,” said Regalado.
“Suffice to say that any move to achieve rice self-sufficiency will be for naught if we will allow our markets to be flooded with smuggled or imported rice,” she said.
R1 renewed its call to the government to stand its ground against the pressure from other countries to stop our bid for quantitative restriction in rice in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The group called on the government to keep in mind that their actions to curb smuggling and restrict the entry of imported rice in the local market is a big help to the local farmers who are barely surviving from the other challenges facing the local rice industry.
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