DA wants duties slapped on palm oil imports
The Department of Agriculture (DA) seeks the slapping of duties on palm oil imports from Malaysia and Indonesia after the total volume of the commodity that entered the country last year surged by ten-fold.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in an interview with reporters on Thursday that the palm oil that came from Malaysia and Indonesia last year grew to about 80 million kilograms and 120 million kg, respectively.
Both countries enjoy tariff-free access to the Philippines under the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (Atiga).
“The Philippines right now will look into trade remedies because there was, according to statistics, a huge increase in the arrival of entry of palm oil from those two countries. Palm oil arriving in the country breached 200 million kilograms,” he said.
“According to our WTO (World Trade Organization) negotiators, the Philippines could invoke a claim of injury on the industry. And for the next 200 days we can impose tariffs on these items so that we will be able to protect our local farmers and local industry from further injury,” he added.
While the imports legally entered the country, Piñol noted that the influx of palm oil into the country might be a case of dumping, which was an “issue of concern” for the local coconut industry.
As of Nov. 16, the average farm-gate price of copra has fallen further to P15.94 a kg from P37.44 in the same period last year—a 57.42-percent decline which Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Romulo dela Rosa described as a “crisis point.”
As the global glut continues to drastically pull down copra prices, both the DA and the PCA are finding means to alleviate the plight of more than three million coconut farmers who rely heavily on the sale of copra.
The secretary has instructed DA’s WTO negotiators to draft an order which would impose a tariff on palm oil imports pending the result of the investigation, but did not disclose how high the rate would be.
“I would immediately sign the order to address the flooding of palm oil in the country. Because right now it is tariff-free,” he said.
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