Vietnam, Philippines’ largest rice supplier, has renewed its commitment to aid Philippines in its rice import requirements amid an ongoing order from President Duterte to defer all rice imports. The government of Vietnam will provide the quality and quantity of rice needed in case the Philippines decides to import rice, Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said recently. The commitment was relayed by Vietnamese vice minister for Trade and Industry Tran Quoc Khanh during a Philippines-Vietnam Joint Trade Committee (JTC) held in the country early this week. “The meeting with Vietnam is significant because the last time we held the JTC was in 2003. So after 14 years we reconvened and we covered a lot of issues,” Rodolfo said.
Vietnamese rice imports represent the biggest to Philippines which is 48% of the country’s total. In 2015, the Philippines’ rice imports from Vietnam were pegged at $223.3 million. Aside from the topic of rice supply, the Philippines and Vietnam also discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral trade, as well as balance the import and export trade between the two Southeast Asian countries during the recent JTC. The DTI said Khanh is optimistic the Philippines could be the perfect trade partner of Vietnam in industries such as manufacturing leather goods and footwear, as well as organic farming. The visit of the Vietnamese official is a run-up to the Philippine chairmanship and hosting of Asean Summit this month.