Record-high meat imports set this year
Meat imports this year are on track to reach a record high as the Department of Agriculture (DA) is raising again the volume of imported pork to be slapped with lower tariffs.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Tuesday announced during a House hearing that the agency submitted a new proposal to President Duterte that would increase pork imports under the minimum access volume (MAV), which will be called MAV Plus.
The latest proposal will raise the country’s MAV imports by 648 percent to 404,210 metric tons (MT) from the initial allocation of 54,000 MT to cover the country’s projected pork shortfall for the year.
This is the third time that the agency recalibrated its proposal as the African swine fever (ASF) continued to slash the country’s hog and pork inventory.
Imports under MAV are given preferential rates, currently at 30 percent for pork against 40 percent for those outside MAV.
To encourage importers to increase their purchases, the DA also proposed to cut the tariff rate to as low as 5 percent for the next 12 months.
Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc. president Edwin Chen, who was also present during the hearing, said hog raisers were agreed with the government’s boosting importation as a last resort so long as the tariff rates would not be lowered.
He stressed that the foregone revenue would affect funding for the local livestock industry at a time when budgetary support was needed the most. He added that raisers would prefer to receive sow pigs than subsidies to fast-track repopulation.
Based on government data, the Philippines logged its lowest beginning stock in 25 years last January after the hog inventory declined by 24 percent.
Frozen pork inventory also dwindled by 49 percent, with six regions recording zero local or imported stocks. INQ
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