Palace tells senators to give EO on lower pork tariffs a chance
A display of pork meat for sale at Commonwealth Market in Quezon City on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
The STAR/Boy Santos

Palace tells senators to give EO on lower pork tariffs a chance

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - April 21, 2021 - 5:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has urged senators to give the executive order (EO) that lowered the tariffs on pork imports a chance and has expressed willingness to revisit the policy in two months to determine if its desired outcomes are attained.

Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque reiterated that EO No. 128, which some senators claim would "kill" the local hog industry, aims to stabilize pork prices and ensure enough supply of swine meat.

"President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is asking the esteemed members of the Senate to give Executive Order No. 128 a chance and consider its intended effects, which include addressing the shortage in swine meat, stabilizing the price of pork meat, and minimizing inflation rate," Roque said in a statement.

"Let us revisit the EO in two months to assess whether the aforesaid intended effects have been realized/met," he added.

Roque said Malacañang is one with the Senate in "ensuring the recovery of the local swine industry and the attainment of sufficient domestic pork production."

The reduced pork tariffs were intended to address the pork supply shortage caused by the African Swine Fever and the rising prices of swine meat in the market.

Under the order, the tariff rate for in-quota imports of fresh, chilled, or frozen carcasses and half-carcasses, hams, shoulders and cuts, and other products will be 5% for the first three months upon effectivity of the order, 10% for the 4th to 12th month, and 30% after the 12th month. The tariff rates for out-quota pork imports will be 15% for the first three months, 20% for the 4th to 12th month, and 40% after the 12th month.

Some lawmakers have warned that the tariff cuts would be disadvantageous to the local hog industry because it would flood the market with imported pork. Critics of the measure also pointed out that the adjusted tariff rates would result in foregone state revenues of P3.6 billion at a time when the government needs money for pandemic response.

Some senators and House members have filed resolutions seeking to revoke the EO but economic managers have insisted the lower pork tariffs are necessary to ensure that the prices of food would remain affordable.

The agriculture department has also clarified that the imports would only fill in the supply gap for this year. The agency sees the demand for pork to reach 1.6 million metric tons this year, higher than the expected supply of about 1.2 million metric tons.

Last Tuesday, Duterte stood by his decision to approve the lower tariffs, noting that he can easily withdraw the EO if pork prices go down.

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