DOF said this is in fulfillment of the earlier consensus reached by the Association of South East Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) economies to keep their markets open and enhance regional cooperation in strengthening the sustainability of regional supply chains, especially in this time of a global crisis spawned by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Vietnam last March imposed a rice export ban until late May to ensure national food security amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the trade ministry had proposed that it be lifted, arguing that supply will exceed demand by 6.7 million tons for the year.
In his letter to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Vietnamese Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh said this decision to carry out the earlier commitment by member-states of ASEAN was reached last April 18 after “considering thoroughly assessment findings on (Vietnam’s) domestic rice supply” and the recommendations of the Vietnam Industry and Trade Ministry.
“I hope the new decision by our Prime Minister (Nguyen Xuan Phuc) will contribute to the joint efforts by ASEAN Member States in maintaining adequate food supply to ASEAN Community to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen ASEAN’s internal unity,” Tran said in his letter to Dominguez last May 4.
An earlier letter received by Dominguez from Minister Tran last April 13 informed him of the Vietnamese Prime Minister’s approval of the Philippines’ rice export quota of 400,000 metric tons (MT) for the month of April.
In his May 4 letter, Tran said that as chairman of the ASEAN this year, Vietnam “attaches great importance to realizing its commitments” in the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Joint Statement on Strengthening ASEAN’s Economic Resilience in Response to the Outbreak of COVID-19 released last March 10, and to the Declaration of the Special ASEAN Summit on Coronavirus Disease 2019 by the ASEAN Leaders issued last April 14.
Tran noted these accords “require us to keep ASEAN’s market open for trade and investment, enhancing cooperation among ASEAN Member States in strengthening the resiliency and sustainability of regional supply chains, especially for food, medicines and other essential supplies.”
“In this spirit, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Viet Nam has seriously taken into account and reported to the Government of Viet Nam on the difficulties faced by various stakeholders as well as mounting concerns from importing countries being parts of the rice supply chains with import from Viet Nam, including particularly concerns from the Philippines,” Tran said in his letter.
“On 18 April 2020, after considering thoroughly assessment findings on domestic rice supply and recommendations by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Viet Nam, H.E. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc decided to fully resume rice export from 1 May 2020,” Tran added.
In their Declaration following the Special ASEAN Summit held last April 14, the ASEAN leaders resolved to “remain committed to keeping ASEAN’s markets open for trade and investment, and enhance cooperation among ASEAN Member States and also with ASEAN’s external partners with a view to ensuring food security, such as the utilization of the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), and strengthening the resiliency and sustainability of regional supply chains, especially for food, commodities, medicines, medical and essential supplies.”
The ASEAN leaders likewise resolved to “task our Economic Ministers and Senior Economic Officials to explore an arrangement to preserve supply chain connectivity, particularly amongst ASEAN Member States, that provides for trade to continue for the smooth flow of essential goods, including medical, food and essential supplies; ensures our critical infrastructure for trade and trading routes via air, land and sea ports remain open; and refrain from imposing unnecessary restrictions on the flow of medical, food and essential supplies, in accordance with the rights and obligations under the World Trade Organization covered agreements, the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement and principles of international law.”