Meat importers want gov’t to keep low pork tariffs up to 2025
The Meat Importers and Traders Association (Mita) wants the low tariff levels to stay up to 2025.
In a letter sent to Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday, Mita said the “compromise rate” to be agreed upon by farmer groups and traders must be implemented for the next five years if the government wanted to ensure the steady supply of affordable pork in the local market.
The group had proposed a compromise tariff rate of 15 percent against the initial proposal of 5 percent—although this came with a condition.
“The 15-percent rate should be incorporated into the upcoming tariff schedule and remain in effect until end-2025,” the group said.
“This should afford a reasonable level of protection. Although at such rate, the target SRPs (suggested retail prices) of P300 a kilogram for liempo, etc. may need to be revised upward,” it added.
The letter was also sent to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, and Senators Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, and Francis Pangilinan.
The Senate had asked the Duterte administration to consider halving the tariffs to 15 percent and 20 percent for in-quota and out-quota, respectively, against the initial proposal to reduce the rates to 5 percent and 10 percent.
Mita president Jesus Cham said lowering pork tariffs for the next five years would allow producers and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to work on the recovery of the livestock industry, allow legitimate importers to become more competitive against unscrupulous importers, and cut the incentives for traders to under declare or misdeclare their goods.
For agricultural groups, however, this would spell the utter demise of their livelihoods, according to pork producers.
“If that happens, backyard raisers will totally shut down. How can they recover from that? We are open to a compromise but they [importers] are being too greedy,” said Nicanor Briones, vice president of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines.
“As we’ve said repeatedly, there is no need to reduce the tariff because importers are already earning a lot even with the current 40 percent. All they think about is earning,” he added.
Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura chair Rosendo So stressed that importers were already pocketing between P35 to P50 a kilo with the current tariff structure but consumer meat prices never moved.
He said: “If the intention is consumer welfare, then there should have been lower prices of imported pork since last year. Until when will Mita and the DA continue their conspiracy? Until all livestock growers are wiped out?”
Briones said the DA should pivot toward helping local raisers by increasing the indemnification fund and incentivizing repopulation efforts. Much of the DA’s budget for controlling ASF has been allocated for the provision of loans. INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.