Extension of lower agri tariffs pushed | Inquirer Business

Extension of lower agri tariffs pushed

/ 02:26 AM November 30, 2022

More groups have come forward urging the government to extend lower tariffs on pork, rice and corn, which are set to expire this year, adding to the growing chorus to maintain the relief measures to protect consumers from skyrocketing prices of goods.

George Barcelon, president of the county’s largest business organization—the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)—said he was “fully supportive” of extending the measure, seeing its benefits in tempering inflation.

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“That would somehow mitigate inflation. Pork prices are up because of the African swine fever. It’s not the fault of local hog raisers, but there could be more shortage in the supply of meat,” Barcelon told the Inquirer in an interview.

“That would help temper any more increase in prices and help us deal with the increasing cost of living, as well as the clamor for higher wages,” he added.

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Barcelon said the government should extend the lower tariffs by a year, and then determine if these could be lifted at the end of 2023.

Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion is also backing the call to have the measure extended, but said he was leaving it up to decision makers from the government when it comes to the duration of the extension.

“I support it; to extend the [lower] tariffs because those are the raw materials,” Concepcion told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

“If you want lower prices of chicken [meat)]or pork, the input [costs] need to be lower. In that entire value chain, the raw materials are very important,” Concepcion added.

Last week, the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) called for the extension of the provisions under Executive Order (EO) No. 171, which lowered tariff rates for these three important agricultural commodities.

Growing clamor

EO 171 lowered the MFN (most favored nation) rates of pork imports to 15 percent in- quota from 30 percent, as well as the out-quota to 25 percent from 40 from April to December 2022.

The same issuance also extended relief measures in EO 135, signed in May of 2021, which reduced MFN out-quota and in-quota rates of 50 percent and 40 percent on imported rice down to 35 percent.

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For corn imports, it reduced in-quota tariffs from 35 percent to 5 percent until the end of 2022.

The FEF estimated that consumers were able to save some P108 billion due to reduced pork prices and P4.2 billion from lower corn prices.

The Alliance of Concerned Consumers in the Philippines (Accop) and Rights Action Philippines (RAP) are also in support of extending the relief measures, citing their benefits to consumers.

“We are one with other groups to call for the extension of lower tariffs on pork, rice and corn as this would translate to lower prices of these commodities,” Ritchie Horario, convener of Accop, said in a message sent to the Inquirer.

Horario highlighted the importance of these agricultural commodities to consumers today, especially at the approach of the holiday season when demand is expected to pick up.

An extension would be a commendable effort as it will help consumers cope with higher prices of commodities due to inflation, said the Accop officials.

Meanwhile, RAP chair Rey Dulay said they would also support an extension, but noted that the government should still find other ways to address the rising prices of goods.

“Yes, lowering of tariffs could be the band-aid solution for our government to take, but this will have a negative impact in the future. More imports will be arriving in the country and this will weaken our local farming sector,” Dulay said.

“This is a short-term solution. What we need from our government is to give us a concrete long-term solution on how to address food supply shortage,” he said.

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