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DOF wants higher quota on pork imports extended

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
DOF wants higher quota on pork imports extended
In an economic bulletin, Finance Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran said President Duterte should enforce Executive Order (EO) 133 for 2022.
The STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) wants the expanded quota for pork imports extended until the end of this year to prevent a repeat of last year’s spike in meat prices.

In an economic bulletin, Finance Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran said President Duterte should enforce Executive Order (EO) 133 for 2022.

EO 133, which expired at the close of 2021, raised the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork imports from 54,210 metric tons (MT) to 254,210 MT to increase domestic supply and, in turn, stabilize retail prices.

Food inflation jumped by 5.5 percent last year from 2.8 percent in 2020, as supply of meat and fish tightened. In particular, meat prices rose by 16.8 percent, the highest among food items since 2012, due to the impact of African swine fever on hog production.

Beltran said meat alone accounted for 1.1 percentage points in the 2021 inflation of 4.5 percent. He pointed out that if only meat prices went up by about half of the actual record, the inflation target of two to four percent would be hit.

“Had meat price inflation been half as high, the upper level of the (two to four percent) inflation target range would not have been breached,” he said.

Beltran said the DOF is pushing for the extension of the validity of EO 133 until December to avert any potential spikes in pork prices that may spur inflationary pressures.

Also, the finance official said the Department of Agriculture’s National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) should exert efforts to prop up the utilization rate of the expanded MAV.

Based on records from NEDA, only 46.4 percent of the expanded MAV was utilized in 2021. The NMIS, Beltran said, should deliver on its commitment to remove non-tariff barriers as instructed by the President himself in Administrative Order 13 in 2018.

Beltran said the government should make sure that pork stocks in cold storages are released every now and then to fill in market demand. In turn, he said warehouses should be replenished with new supply for every stock that they unload to the retail level.

“The country would definitely need to continue importing pork products to meet the demand and immediately compensate for the shortfall in domestic supply, as it will take some time to recover decimated hog populations,” Beltran said.

The country’s hog inventory has fallen by more than 12 percent to 9.87 million as of September 2021, from 11.27 million in 2020, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

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