Last updateTue, 16 Sep 2014 9pm

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Govt asked to impose safeguard duty on palm-oil products

THE country’s palm growers have said they will ask the government to impose a safeguard duty on all palm-oil products imported into the country.

Erwin Garcia, president of the Philippine Palm Oil Development Council Inc. (PPDCI), expressed alarm that the market is being flooded with imported palm-oil products, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia.

PPDCI is an association of palm growers, whose members are mostly based in Mindanao.

The group, which has Kenram Philippines, Filipinas Palm Oil, Agumil Philippines, Aberdi and some 5,000 growers as members, said the imposition of the appropriate safeguard duty on imported palm-oil products is a mechanism allowed under Republic Act 8800.

Under this law, the government may impose a safeguard duty through the Department of Trade and Industry to protect local industries from an “import surge.”

“The group’s petition will stress that the local palm industry, which is still in its infant stage, and the government should continue to assure investors that it will create a level-playing field for all,” Garcia said.

Imposing safeguard duties was done in the recent past when there was a similar influx of glass, ceramic and cement imports into the country. The law requires an automatic Tariff Commission review of a trade department-imposed safeguard duty imposition.

Garcia said the present surge was aggravated by the “technical” smuggling of palm-oil products, especially involving undervaluation.

He warned that if this is not stopped, the local palm industry would no longer be competitive.

He also said the government should take immediate measures to stop the smuggling of palm oil products to encourage investors to continue their planned palm plantation projects.

PPDCI said it had expressed its concerns to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who promised to help the local palm growers’ plight.

“We will never get tired of calling the attention of the government until smuggling is stopped and the smugglers penalized,” Garcia said.

Earlier, an industry insider alleged that some of the imported palm-oil products came in at prices lower than the world market price. This undervaluation of their products allows some importers to sell these at low cost even as it deprives the government of taxes.

(Jennifer A. Ng)





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