Philippines: Meat importers seek extension of tariff cuts

MANILA, Philippines — Meat importers and traders have urged President Marcos to issue an executive order (EO) to further lower tariffs on pork imports for another five years to help address rising inflation and food security concerns.

In a letter to the President through Agriculture undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, the Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA) appealed for an EO that will further reduce the import duty rates on pork at five percent in-quota and 15 percent out-quota for five years.

“Since the conditions surrounding the issuance of EO 134 persist, we believe there is no need for DA to petition the Tariff Commission anew,” the group said.

The group also hopes to meet with the President to discuss “other suggestions and recommendations with regard to availability, affordability, sourcing, retail pricing etc.”

EO 134, signed by then President Duterte in May 2021, provided that in-quota pork imports or those under the minimum access volume (MAV), are slapped with a 10 percent tariff for three months and increased to 15 percent in the remaining months. This is lower than the original rate of 30 percent.

This was issued amid the continuing spread of African swine fever (ASF) and its adverse effects on pork supply at that time.

EO 171 was then signed last May, which extended the 15 percent in-quota and 25 percent out quota tariff rates for pork until Dec. 31 to bring down prices and stabilize the supply of pork in the country.

Once it lapses, the tariff rates for pork will revert to 30-40 percent by next year.

“The conditions that warranted the issuance of EO 134 still exist today, and in fact has gotten worse for the Philippines as well as for the global landscape,” MITA said.

The group said ASF continues to plague the domestic swine industry and the development of vaccine will still take time.

And even if a vaccine with high efficacy rate becomes commercially available next year, it will still take at least five years for the local hog industry to fully recover, it said.

Apart from ASF, the group also cited inflationary headwinds with rising grain/feed costs, climbing oil/transport costs, the devaluation of the Philippine peso and the global issue in logistics.

MITA also noted the one to three percent reduction in sow numbers in the major pork producing regions of the world, which it said is “unprecedented and will result in a global reduction of pork supply and consequently, higher prices for a number of years.”

“Duty reduction is but one of the solutions we are proposing to help stem inflation,” it said.

According to the group, other countries have reduced or even eliminated their duties completely, which makes it difficult for local importers to compete for supply overseas.

It cited the duty-free access of pork from the US to South Korea, Vietnam’s reduction of its most favored nation (MFN) tariff rate on frozen pork imports from 15 percent to 10 percent, among others.

MITA said the local industry’s self-sufficiency cannot be achieved overnight and the Philippines would need to rely on imports in the short to medium term to augment supply.

Source: https://www.philstar.com/business/2022/09/30/2213150/meat-importers-seek-extension-tariff-cuts