Lowering of tariff for imported rice is not an outcome of trade agreement discussions but only to diversify the sourcing of the staple.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said “The tariff adjustment was not due to any trade agreement discussion. It was mainly due to rising prices of rice from major import source like Vietnam and Thailand which are Asean countries and which have 35 percent tariff rates.
He added that sourcing outside Asean member states will secure sufficient rice inventory and ensure low and stable price of rice.
Earier, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 135 that cuts the most favored nation (MFN) tariff rate on rice from 40 percent to 35 percent.
Lopez said by lowering the MFN rate, importing rice from countries outside Asean can compete with the prices of rice from Vietnam and Thailand.