THE Bureau of Customs has deferred the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) request to extend the validity of minimum access volume plus certificate (MAVPC) for pork, saying existing rules and regulations restrict them from doing so.
In Customs Memorandum Circular (CMC) 44, the BOC said pork imports under the 2021 MAV plus (MAV+) program of the government with MAVPC issued beyond February 28 shall be assessed with out-quota tariff rates.
At present, pork imports within the MAV or in-quota are levied with 15 percent tariff rate while out-quota imports are slapped with 25-percent tariff rate, based on Executive Order 134. The CMC was addressed to all BOC Deputy Commissioners, Directors, Division Chiefs, District and Port Collectors, among others.
“Steps should also be undertaken to collect additional duties on the difference between in-quota and out-quota rates on affected importations,” Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero said in the CMC made public recently.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar wrote to Guerrero last January 19 seeking the BOC’s consideration to levy pork imports under the 2021 MAV+ program arriving beyond February 28 with in-quota tariff rates.
Dar made the request on condition that the MAV import certificates (MAVIC) of the concerned pork imports under MAV+ were issued “on or before January 31, 2022.”
Dar said meat importers have requested accommodation of the MAVIC of pork MAV+ arriving beyond February 28 that were affected by longer transit times, which have been taking as long as 120 days, due to global logistical challenges.
The government raised by 200,000 metric tons (MT) the country’s MAV for pork, called pork MAV+, to boost domestic meat supply to temper rising prices caused by lower pig herd as a consequence of African swine fever.
In his letter, Dar pointed out that as of January 17 2022 the 2021 pork MAV+ utilization was only at 34.25 percent or about 68,481.07 MT out of the total 200,000 MT allocation.
“It is important to note that the intent of the MAV plus 2021 scheme is to augment the supply of pork in the country to stabilize price and temper inflation,” read Dar’s letter.
“With the upcoming end of the MAV Plus 2021 for pork, the Department of Agriculture encourages faster and greater utilization of the remaining allocation of the MAV Plus,” he added.
BOC records showed the agency received Dar’s letter on February 4. Guerrero replied to Dar in a letter dated February 15. He said the BOC is “constrained” to “defer” his request, citing existing rules and regulations.
Guerrero cited provisions of DA Administrative Order 1 of 1998 which outlined the rules and regulations of the MAV mechanism, wherein MAVICs shall be valid for three months from date of issuance but shall be invalidated beyond February 28 of the following MAV year.
The country’s MAV year runs from February 1 until January 31 of the following year.
Guerrero, however, noted that the BOC “understands” the need to extend the validity of the MAVIC for pork imports under the 2021 pork MAV+ due to longer transit time and delays caused by “pandemic-caused global shipping problems.”
“However, reference should be made on the above-cited Section I.K(15) of Administrative Order No. 1 series of 1998 which mandates that no MAVIC issued within the MAV year shall be valid beyond February of the following MAV year,” he said.
“Thus, this Office is constrained to respectfully defer the implementation of the request for extension of MAVIC’s validity beyond 28 February 2022 until the DA issues an amendatory administrative order or such issuance allowed by law providing for an exemption to Administrative Order 1,” he added.
Under Section I.K(15) of AO 1 1998 also stipulated that MAVICs issued after the end of its concerned MAV year shall be “counted against the licenses issued for the current MAV year.”
Guerrero said amendments to AO 1 must include the “specific range of the issuance dates covered by the amendatory” AO, considering that “on or before January 31, 2022” covers the whole preceding MAV year. The amendment must also include the specific range of arrival dates that must be considered valid beyond a concerned MAV year.
“Rest assured that we will coordinate with the DA on all matters of mutual concern,” Guerrero said in his letter.