No safeguard duties yet to stem rice imports
The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it was not considering the imposition of safeguard duties just yet to temper the arrival of imported rice in the country.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said at a press briefing that the agency was still looking at other measures to prop up prices of palay, including ramping up the procurement of the staple and giving financial assistance to distressed farmers.
It has also been strict with the issuance of food safety permits—a primary requirement to import.
Under the rice tariffication law, taxes imposed on imports may be increased, reduced or revised by the President to protect Filipino farmers and consumers from any unwarranted price or supply concerns.
Imposing safeguards would increase tariffs and would make imports more expensive, thereby discouraging traders from bringing in the staple to the domestic market and force traders to buy from local farmers at higher rates.
Despite the insistence of the agency that prices at the farm-gate were hovering between P16 and P19 a kilo, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that several provinces have recorded palay quotations as low as P12.80 a kilo.
The Federation of Free Farmers had blamed the dip in prices to the unimpeded arrival of imported rice in the country, which allegedly robs local farmers of a stable market.
The DA considered using safeguards to temper the volume of rice imports, but this was shot down by economic managers for being “inflationary.”
Other groups recommended a safeguard duty of 70 percent on top of the current tariffs slapped on rice. Under the law, rice coming from Asean countries are imposed a 35-percent tariff while those from non-Asean countries are slapped 50 percent.