The National Food Authority (NFA) has opened to the private sector the importation of 187,000 metric tons (MT) of high-quality rice under the minimum access volume (MAV) omnibus importation program.

The opening of the private sector importation under the MAV was done pursuant to the resolution passed by the NFA Council on Dec. 9.

Each importer would be allowed to bring in a maximum of 5,000 MT for the entire allocation from any country of origin. No more allocations would be issued when the omnibus origin volume has already been exhausted.

Imports would be levied a tariff of 40 percent which has be paid in advance through the LandBank of the Philippines. The final assessment of payment shall be conducted by the Bureau of Customs.

Under the MAV omnibus importation program, importers would only be allowed to import high quality rice varieties such as glutinous rice, Jasponica, Basmati and other special and aromatic rice varieties.

Regular rice with five percent brokens, 10 percent brokens, and 15 percent brokens may also be imported under this program.

All NFA-licensed importers may apply to import under this program starting Dec. 28, 2014 until Jan. 31, 2015. All imports must arrive on or before Feb. 28, 2015.

The complete list of requirements may be found at the NFA website.

Interested importers must submit to the Grains Marketing Operations Department-Foreign Operations Division of the NFA a letter of intent together with all the documentary requirements.

Corporations and cooperatives interested to participate in the program must designate, through a board resolution, an authorized representative to act on behalf of the corporation or cooperative during the application process.

Farmers’ organizations must present an original certificate of good standing from the government agency where it is registered such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform or National Irrigation Administration. They must likewise authorize a representative.

The Philippines has agreed this year to increase the volume of rice that could enter the country under the MAV to 805,000 MT from 350,000 MT in exchange for the extension of its special tax treatment on rice by the World Trade organization (WTO).

For now, the country still implements the old MAV scheme under which, 187,000 MT may be of omnibus origin while 163,000 MT should be of country-specific origin. Under the country specific program, rice may only be imported from the following source countries with the respective allocations: Thailand (98,000 MT), India (25,000 MT), China (25,000 MT) and Australia (15,000 MT).

Food security chief said Francis Pangilinan said the NFA Council would review and make recommendations on the enforcement of the country’s commitment with the WTO.

“The NFA Council imports committee created last August has been tasked to review and make recommendations regarding out WTO commitments. We will await their recommendations,” he said.