Higher tariff on pork imports put on hold

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The proposal of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) to increase tariff on pork imports has been put on hold by the Tariff Commission until the petition of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has been resolved.

In a letter to SINAG chairman Rosendo So, Tariff Commission chair Marilou Mendoza said the proposal of the group to raise the current in-quota tariff rate of 30 percent for meat of fresh, chilled or frozen swine to 40 percent and increase out-quota tariff to 44 percent from the current 40 percent is considered the same as a petition for tariff modification under Section 1608 of Republic Act 10863 otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

“However, given that the tariff structure of the said product is currently under review, due to the earlier petition for temporary reduction in the MFN (most favored nation) rates of duty filed by the Department of Agriculture (DA), we are constrained to put your the resolution of the DA petition,” Mendoza said.

“Once a final action on the said petition is issued, the commission will provide you with the necessary information on how to proceed with your petition,” she said.

In response to Mendoza’s reply, SINAG wrote another letter reiterating its request.

The DA has recommended a reduction in both in quota and out quota tariff for pork to address supply shortages caused by the African swine fever (ASF).

For in-quota or those within the minimum access volume (MAV), a five percent tariff is proposed for the first three months and will be increased to 10 percent afterwards.

Imports under MAV,  currently at 54,000 metric tons, are slapped with a 30 percent tariff. For those outside MAV, a proposal of 15 percent tariff is initially eyed, before hiking to 20 percent.

At present, out-quota imports are levied at 40 percent.

So  earlier said importers are raking profits with the current tariff rate with no corresponding reflection on the retail price of prime pork cuts.

He cited data from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) showing that the declared price or landed meat of swine averaged at P81 per kilo from January 2020 to January 2021.

So said imported pork was being sold between P350 to P450 per kilo in January to February, when the retail prices of local pork earlier registered spikes.

“Importers claim that they are not violating any law and are just following the retail price of pork,” So said.

Importers are easily profiting between P200 to P250 kilo at the current retail of P350 to P400 per kilo of pork belly and kasim or pork shoulder.

SINAG  emphasized that the move wouldy5 increase government revenues, which is the cornerstone of the economic program of the government

“Reducing tariffs will deprive the government of much needed revenues. Revenues that would support the Covid-19 vaccination program and efforts to help the livestock industry recover from the ASF pandemic,” it added.

National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. president Chester Warren Tan told The STAR that they support anything that will favor the local industry.

“I think through SINAG’s computation they have established and justified their call to increase tariff,” Tan said.

“As of this time, we’re ok where the tariff is in terms of out-quota. But if this will be increased to further protect the local industry, it’s better for us in the pork and poultry sector,” Tan said.

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