The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), in partnership with The Rice Trader (TRT), organized and conducted the Parallel Session on the Regional Implications of the Philippine Rice Tariffication Law during the 11th The Rice Trader World Rice Conference, the Inaugural Rice Research Symposium, on 13 November 2019. This initiative addresses concerns brought about by the newly enacted Republic Act 11203 titled “An Act liberalizing the importation, exportation, and trading of rice, lifting for the purpose the quantitative import restriction on rice, and for other purposes.” Otherwise known as the Rice Tariffication Law, it lifts existing quantitative import restrictions on rice. Prior to its ratification, the Rice Tariffication Law faced heavy opposition from various stakeholders, fearing that cheaper imported rice would flood markets and hurt local farmers. Debates ensued on the law’s relevance to the current Philippine rice industry and its future contributions to the competitiveness of Filipino farmers in the face of ASEAN trade and market integration.
In view of these challenges, the need for experts and policymakers to step in and provide a multi-stakeholder perspective on this issue has never been greater. Thus, the aim of the parallel session was to assess the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law in terms of policy implications on regional trade, rice reserves, food security, agricultural and rural development, and farmers’ income and competitiveness.
Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, reiterated SEARCA’s commitment to support farmers and the local market amidst the potential impacts of the Philippine Rice Tariffication Law. On the other hand, Dr. Roehlano M. Briones, Senior Research Fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, provided a general overview of the short- and long-term effects of rice industry liberalization to various facets of the market. Five experts further analyzed the implications of the Philippine Rice Tariffication Law in terms of the following: (1) regional trade (by Dr. Ramon L. Clarete, University of the Philippines School of Economics; (2) food
security in Southeast Asia (by Mr. Jose Ma. Luis P. Montesclaros, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore); (3) regional rice reserves (by Ms. Jansinee Kankaew, ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve Secretariat; (4) agricultural and rural development in Southeast Asia (Mr. Jerry E. Pacturan, International Fund for Agricultural Development-Asia Pacific Division, (country office?); and (5) rice farmers’ income and competitiveness (by Mr. Cresente C. Paez, Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development).