Duterte approves lower tariff on pork imports
The import duty rates on fresh, chilled and frozen pork will be modified temporarily through Executive Order No. 128 issued yesterday.
Michael Varcas, file

Duterte approves lower tariff on pork imports

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has approved the proposal to slash tariff rates on pork imports to as low as five percent in response to the pork supply shortage that led to soaring prices.

The import duty rates on fresh, chilled and frozen pork will be modified temporarily through Executive Order No. 128 issued yesterday.

“There is an urgent need to temporarily reduce the most favored nation (MFN) tariff rates on fresh, chilled or frozen meat of swine to address the existing pork supply shortage, stabilize prizes of pork meat and minimize inflation rate,” the order read.

Tariff rate for in-quota imports of fresh, chilled or frozen carcass and half-carcasses, hams, shoulders and cuts and other products will be set at five percent for the first three months, 10 percent for the 4th to 12th months and 30 percent after the 12th month.

For out-quota pork imports, duty rates will be 15 percent for the first three months, 20 percent for the 4th to 12th months and 40 percent after the 12th month.

The new rates will take effect immediately upon publication in the Official Gazette or in national newspapers. The modified rates will be enforced for one year.

Meanwhile, agriculture group Samahan ng Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) slammed the move of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to distribute freezers and chillers in wet markets, claiming it would pave the way for selling of smuggled and imported frozen pork.

Noting a surge of imported frozen pork sold at wet markets since January, SINAG said this will further kill the local hog industry already plagued by the African swine fever (ASF).

“The reluctance of the DA to arrest importers that are brazenly dumping frozen pork into our wet markets is very clear now,” the group said.

“While vendors are at fault, the bigger crime is with the importers and smugglers. This is not only illegal, but poses food safety risks and public health concerns,” it added.

Picking up on this point was Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who called on President Duterte to reconsider his earlier recommendation to increase the minimum amount of imported pork to fill the shortage of its supply in the markets.

In March, Duterte endorsed increasing the minimum access volume (MAV) to 350,000 metric tons, from the current importation of 54,2010 metric tons.

“This (too much-imported pork) is not the request of the dying hog industry. And it will be even more difficult for them while some importers will earn billions,” Pangilinan said in his text message.

“(What they need is) the additional assistance as well. I hope the declaration of a state of calamity comes first.”

He said the recommendation to lower the tariff on imported pork and increase the MAV will kill the country’s hog industry.

It was the same sentiment pointed out by Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate food and agriculture committee, when she lashed out at the DA at a previous hearing.

Under the MAV scheme, the tariff on pork imports will be reduced to five percent from the previous 30 percent for this year.

SINAG and other agriculture groups have banded together to appeal to the President to reject the DA’s plan to increase the MAV and reduce tariffs on pork.

“The information given to the President may be wrong. Our local hog raisers will fall even more if more imported pork is allowed,” Pangilinan said in a statement last March 28.

“On behalf of our hog raisers, we are asking to declare a state of calamity for immediate indemnification fund assistance and additional cash assistance for them,” he said. – Catherine Talavera, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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