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Farm goods smuggling worsening, says agri group

The volume of smuggled agricultural produce—including onions, garlic and carrots—surged in 2015 from 2014 level, resulting in about P3.7 billion in lost revenue for the government, according to the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag).

Sinag, which groups farmers, agribusiness operators and party list groups, Tuesday said it was pinning its hopes that the problem would be addressed on the pronouncements of the Duterte administration that it would go tough against contraband.

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Citing discrepancies between United Nations data—with countries reporting shipments bound for the Philippines—and a Philippine agency’s monitoring of inbound cargo, the umbrella group said smuggled onions alone might have ballooned sixfold last year.

Based on information from the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade), China, India, The Netherlands, the United States and Hong Kong shipped a total of 49.3 million kilos of onions to the Philippines. However, the Philippine government counted only about 31 million kilos.

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Sinag chair Rosendo So said the difference of 18.3 million kilos could mean such volume was brought in illegally.

Also, UN data show China sent 138 million kilos of garlic in 2015, but the Philippines monitored only 23.6 million kilos—a difference of 114.4 million kilos.

Further, the UN was told about 1.4 million kilos of carrots sent from China, The Netherlands and Singapore, but the Philippines counted only 429 kilos.

Sinag said the numbers meant the smuggled volume of onions surged six times from 2.7 million kilos, garlic four times from 40 million kilos, and carrots four times from 0.33 million kilos—in 2014.

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TAGS: Agriculture, Business, economy, News, produce, samahang industriya ng agrikultura, SINAG, Smuggling
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