MANILA — In response to shortage in pork supply that has led to rising costs, President Duterte approves to slash tariff rates on pork imports to as low as five percent.
Executive No. 128, meanwhile temporarily modifies import duty rates on fresh, chilled, and frozen pork.
“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,” reads the order.
Set at five percent for the first three months are tariff rates for in-quota imports of fresh, chilled or frozen carcass and half-carcasses, hams, shoulders and cuts and other products. The next fourth to twelfth months, tariff will be adjusted to 10 percent, and thirty percent after the twelfth month.
Meanwhile, duty is set at 15 percent for the first three months for out-quota imports, with 20 percent on the fourth to twelfth month, and 40 percent afterwards.
Said rates take effect as soon as published in the Official Gazette or in national newspapers, and will be imposed for one year.
Hog industry still in peril
However, agriculture group Samahan ng Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) bats on the Department of Agriculture (DA) for distributing freezers and chillers in wet markets, claiming such move would pave the way for selling smuggled and imported frozen pork products.
SINAG has observed a surge of imported frozen pork sold in wet markets since January and voiced this will further kill the local hog industry already afflicted 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,” says the group.
“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 adds.
Pangilinan renews call for state of emergency over hog industry
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Pangilinan, calls on President Rodrigo Duterte anew to reconsider his earlier recommendation to increase the minimum amount of imported pork to fill the shortage of its supply in the markets.
Duterte has endorsed in March the increase of the minimum access volume (MAV) to 350,000 metric tons, from the current volume 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,” says Pangilinan in a text message.
“(What they need is) the additional assistance as well. I hope the declaration of a state of calamity comes first.”
The recommendation to lower the tariff on imported pork and increase the MAV will kill the country’s hog industry, he says.
Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate food and agriculture committee, pointed out similar sentiment when she lashed out at the DA in 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 appeals to the President to reject the DA plan of increasing the MAV and reducing 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,” says Pangilinan in a statement.
“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 says. (JSM/JuanManila)