Philippines to ask ASEAN peers to keep food supply chain open

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Concerned over potential food shortages, the Philippines will ask its neighbours in Southeast Asia to keep food supply chains open and refrain from trade restrictions as the country locks down in the face of rising COVID-19 infections.

Philippines Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and spokesman for the inter-agency task force on coronavirus 2019, says the country will ask its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) counterparts to “refrain from imposing trade restrictive measures” to ensure supplies will not run out amid the mass quarantine in the country.

Nograles said the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will work with their trading partners in Asean to ensure contracts between them will be fulfilled, continuing the flow of supplies despite restrictive travel measures imposed throughout the region.

The Philippines is also seeking help from its Asean peers for the importation of an additional 300,000 metric tonnes of rice through government-to-government agreements. The country will also approach India and Pakistan, Nograles says.

Vietnam – the world’s third largest rice exporter –had earlier suspended its rice export contracts until 28 March to ensure it has sufficient supplies to cope during the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Philippine government has also reactivated the Local Price Coordination Council to strictly implement price freezes and suggested retail price (SRP) compliance.

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