Groups buck planned tariff cut on pork imports
More groups on Wednesday expressed opposition to the government’s plan to slash the tariff rates imposed on pork after Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that the proposal was already sent to President Duterte’s office for approval.
The agriculture chief on Tuesday said his agency’s recommendation to cut the tariff rates for imported pork to between 5 and 20 percent from the current 30-40 percent was already submitted to the Office of the President.
The measure intends to encourage traders to bring in more pork to address the supply shortage and was also backed by the National Economic and Development Authority.
In a letter addressed to the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Philippine Council for Fisheries and Agriculture (PCAF) requested the agency to withdraw its proposal and focus on boosting local production instead.
PCAF is one of the DA’s legally mandated arms meant to serve as an avenue for officials to hear its stakeholders’ concerns, but group leaders said there have been no consultations regarding the major policy shift.
“This scheme will have unintended and spillover effects affecting the incomes of producers who are mostly the backyard and commercial swine/hog raisers. In such manner, the producers/farmers will be discouraged to produce more and is contrary to the promotion of the DA programs for increasing productivity in the long term,” the letter read.
The group added that the agency should allow the importation of cheaper feed inputs instead to reduce the cost of producing meat and discourage raisers to use swill, which was one of the identified causes for the spread of African swine fever (ASF).
Industry insiders estimated hog deaths—both from culling and ASF—already reached 4.5 million since the first outbreak began in 2019. The DA said industry losses were nearly P1 billion a month, although groups said the figure was a conservative estimate.
Agri-Fisheries Alliance (AFA), a group of four national organizations that also includes PCAF, likewise wrote to Mr. Duterte on Wednesday asking the President to defer the proposed tariff reduction.
According to AFA, cutting tariff rates would result in P11.8 billion in foregone government revenue “that is better used to improve local swine production.”
With the current tariff rates, AFA argued that shipments of imported pork were being delivered in Metro Manila markets at P184 and P197 a kilo. However, prices in the markets have not been reflective of these rates.