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More cheap pork imports set to enter PH

By: - Reporter / @kocampoINQ
/ 04:05 AM June 29, 2021
Amid ASF, San Miguel streamlines pork business

INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

Starting July 12, the government will allow the entry of more cheap imported pork products, in a bid to pull down high pork prices that have contributed to the country’s elevated inflation rate.

According to the guidelines released by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to implement Executive Order No. 133, which temporarily raised the minimum access volume (MAV) of pork products that can be imported at low tariffs, importers can bring in 254,210 metric tons of pork products that will be slapped a low tariff of 5 percent for the first three months and 10 percent from the fourth to the 12th month.

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Beyond this volume, pork products will be levied an import tax of 15 percent and 20 percent.

EO 133 was issued in May to bring down pork prices that skyrocketed over the past year by as much as 54 percent due to the severe pork shortfall in the market caused by the African swine fever.

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Complementing EO 133 is EO 128, which lowered the tariff rates for pork under MAV to 5 percent for the first three months and to 10 percent for the fourth to 12 months of its effectivity, from 30 percent.

For pork imports outside MAV, the tariff rates were reduced to 15 percent for the first three months and 20 percent for the fourth to 12th month of effectivity, from 40 percent.

The resolution effective July 12, meanwhile, also thumbed down the initial recommendation of the DA’s interagency technical working group to distribute the import allocations equally among pork producers, current MAV holders, and new importers.

Rather, it will be distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis to ensure that the volume will be used and “attain the real intent and purpose of EO 133 of immediately addressing the current supply gap in pork meat.”

Given that the MAV Plus cannot be used for next year and will expire by February, 70 percent or 140,000 MT of the volume will be released between July and October, while the remaining 30 percent or 60,000 MT will be released between November and January next year.

Importers are also limited to import 50 full container loads per application, equivalent to 1,250 MT.

Livestock groups including the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) and the National Federation of Hog Producers Inc. said their members would not participate in the importation of pork, adding that most backyard raisers don’t have the capital to do so and that it would only lead to the local sector’s “death.”

“We remain firm in our position that there is no need to import pork,” said Sinag chair Rosendo So. “We find it ironic that the government is encouraging hog raisers to import than produce when we’ve already pointed out that while we do not oppose importation, we oppose the slash in tariff cuts.”

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