Philippines drops multinational rice purchase as Vietnam resumes exports

MANILA, June 28 (Reuters) - The Philippine government has dropped a plan to import up to 300,000 tonnes of rice from various governments as its traditional main supplier, Vietnam, has resumed selling grains, the agriculture department said late on Saturday.

The Philippines, the world's biggest rice buyer, had planned to import under a government-to-government scheme to ensure sufficient supply during its lean harvest season in the third quarter.

State agency Philippine International Trading Corp (PITC) had issued a tender to import 25% broken, well-milled long grain white rice, with bids from India, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar opened on June 8.

Based on the ranking of qualified bids, Myanmar was on top with an offer of $489.25 a tonne for a volume of 33,000 tonnes and $494.25 a tonne for a separate volume of 42,000 tonnes.

Vietnam's Vinafood 1 would have also won a supply contract for 30,000 tonnes at $497.30 a tonne.

Other bids were rejected, including those from India and Thailand.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the rice import plan had been dropped as it was "no longer necessary under the current situation".

Vietnam resumed its rice exports from May after a brief suspension to assess its local supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Philippines imports around 7% to 14% of its rice requirements, with 90% coming from its Southeast Asia neighbour.

Potential tightness in domestic supply "has been properly addressed with the lifting of the rice export ban by Vietnam and the rice import arrivals of around 1.3 million metric tonnes as of the third week of June," Dar said.

He expressed optimism that the country's remaining import requirement can be secured within the remaining six months of the year by the private sector. (Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by William Mallard)

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