Meat processors, hog raisers divided over tariff rate reduction on pork imports

Meat processors and hog raisers are at odds with each other, with one favoring and the other opposing the reduction of tariff rates on imported pork meat under Executive Order (EO) No. 128.

In a statement on Thursday, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) said the landmark decision will bring back affordable value-added pork products to the market.

“We welcome the decision… We consider it a victory for the millions of Filipino consumers who have been suffering from the shortage of local pork, thus pushing prices to levels beyond their reach,” it said.

However, agriculture group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) lamented that the one-year reduction of pork import duties was “a betrayal to the millions of hog raisers and workers dependent on the hog industry.”

PAMPI, the country’s largest group of meat processors, contended that hog raisers can recover part of their losses by importing pork.

But SINAG pointed out that the order would cut government revenues by around P12 to P14 billion annually, an amount that can be used to help the livestock industry recover from the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.

“The agriculture sector has long emphasized that reducing tariffs and increasing the MAV allocation will not benefit anyone, except the handful of importers,” SINAG said.

“Any pork shortfall can be imported at the current tariff level and MAV allocation without any additional burden to importers, as the current tariff rates already provide profits of 200 to 250 pesos per kilo for importers,” it added.

Last Wednesday, 7 April, President Rodrigo Duterte signed EO 128 to temporarily lower tariffs on imported pork meat to address supply shortage due to ASF.

“There is an urgent need to temporarily reduce the Most Favored Nation tariff rates on fresh, chilled or frozen meat of swine to address the existing pork supply shortage, stabilize prices of pork meat, and minimize inflation rates,” Duterte said.

The EO temporarily lowered the import duties on fresh, chilled, or frozen pork to 5 percent from 30 percent under the minimum access volume (MAV) quota for three months after the order takes effect. It will then be raised to 10 percent in the succeeding nine months.

On the other hand, the tariff rate for imported meat outside the existing quota is reduced to 15 percent from 40 percent for the first three months. The rate should increase to 20 percent for the next nine months.

To recall, the Congress was also previously asked last month to increase the MAV for pork imports this year by 350,000 metric tons (MT) on top of the 54,210 MT under the current limit.

The latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that the prices of pure pork rose to 20.9 percent in March.

The state-run statistics body also noted that the prevailing pork prices in the National Capital Region averaged P329 per kilo in March from P323 per kilo a month earlier.

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