MANILA: The world’s biggest rice sellers, Thailand and Vietnam, are likely to win government to government deals to supply a total 500,000 tonnes of the grain to the Philippines, which is seeking to build its buffer stock ahead of a lean harvest season.
Thailand offered on Friday to sell 100,000 tonnes each of 15 percent and 25 percent broken long grain white rice at $369 per tonne and $421 a tonne, respectively, to the Philippine state grain agency National Food Authority (NFA).
The prices were lower than Vietnam’s offers, but Vietnam agreed to match Thailand’s bid and will likely be allowed to ship the remaining 150,000 tonnes each of the two varieties, the NFA said.
Cambodia was qualified to submit an offer but did not.
All shipments should arrive in the Philippines by April 30, the NFA said, adding it expects to sign contracts for the rice deals on or before March 10.
Rice export prices in Vietnam recovered from multi-month lows this week, supported by a government-backed stockpiling plan and demand from the Philippines, while Thai rice stood unchanged ahead of a major tender.
Despite record-high domestic harvests in recent years, including last year’s output, the Philippines remains one of the world’s biggest rice buyers.
The NFA imported around 1.7 million tonnes in 2014, the biggest amount in four years, as local supplies run low, pushing food price inflation to the highest level in more than five years.
Imports this year could reach 1.6 million tonnes, according to a forecast by the United States Department of Agriculture. A government source, however, said last month that purchases could be less than 1 million tonnes as local supply has improved and prices have stabilised.