THE Meat Importers and Traders Association (Mita) is urging President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to issue a new executive order (EO) extending the lower current tariff rates on pork imports to help ease pressure on the country’s inflation.
In a letter submitted to Marcos, the group proposed the extension and further lowering of pork tariff rates for at least five years more to “stem” the rate of increase in the country’s food prices.
“We appeal to Your Excellency to issue a new Executive Order and reinstate the import duty rates on pork of 5 percent In Quota and 15 percent Out Quota for a duration of 5 years,” Mita said in its letter dated September 28.
“Since the conditions surrounding the issuance of EO 134 [Series of 2021] persist, if not worsened, we believe there is no need for the DA [Department of Agriculture] to petition the Tariff Commission anew,” it added.
The current lower tariff rates on pork imports under former President Duterte’s Executive Order 171 are only effective until the end of this year. The tariff rates on imported pork would revert to the regular 30 percent to 40 percent starting January 1, 2023.
Mita explained that the further reduction and retention of lower pork tariff rates are “necessary” amid a confluence of global events that are affecting both the price and supply of pork in the world.
The group argued that the price of imported pork is challenged by the effects of rising feed costs, oil and transport costs, the continuous devaluation of the Philippine peso against the US dollar and persisting logistical issues in the world.
Worse, the group pointed out that major pork-producing countries abroad, particularly across Europe and North America, are reducing their sow levels by 1 percent to 3 percent.
“While this may not sound like a huge reduction, when one considers that each sow can give birth to 10-20 piglets a year, the dire impact can be more readily appreciated,” it said.
“This is unprecedented and will result in a global reduction of pork supply and consequently, higher prices for a number of years,” it added.
In its July report, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) projected that global pork exports this year would decline by 13.42 percent to 10.571 million metric tons (MMT) from 12.209 MMT as exporting countries prioritize their domestic requirement amid lower output.
USDA data showed that the volume of pork exports of the European Union, the world’s top supplier, United States, Canada and Brazil will all fall this year. Pork exports of the European Union are projected to decline by 24 percent to 3.8 MMT from nearly 5 MMT last year, based on USDA data.
Furthermore, Mita said neighboring countries are already reducing their tariff rates to as low as zero to be able to stock up on pork supply and temper their respective inflation woes.
“Closer to home, our Asian neighbors, and even New Zealand, have responded by reducing their tariff on pork and in some cases also poultry, either by virtue of an FTA or some special measure to address inflation,” it said.
Mita cited the following cases: US pork can now enter South Korea duty-free; Vietnam reducing its tariff rate on frozen pork from 15 percent to 10 percent; Vietnam’s pork tariff on European pork (currently at 9.4 percent) and Canadian pork (5.6 percent) continue to reach zero under an existing FTA; Russian pork enters Vietnam at zero duty, among others.
“No one questions the need to strengthen and develop local agriculture. A certain level of self-sufficiency is necessary to achieve food security. But the sad reality is Philippine agriculture has not kept pace with population growth,” the group said.
“Given time and the necessary government support, our farmers can increase productivity to feed 110 million Filipinos. However, this clearly cannot be achieved overnight, and our country must rely on imports at least in the short to medium term to augment supply,” it added.
Mita had earlier cautioned that Filipino meat consumers must brace for a possible price increase of imported meat products by at least 10 percent in the coming months due to continuous weakening of peso and tightening global supply. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/09/22/imported-meat-prices-to-riseon-peso-global-supply-woes/)