Meat importers are lobbying to extend further the validity of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) import clearance (SPSICs) for imported meat products to address issues on the underutilization of the import document.
The Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA) recently wrote to Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Director Paul Limson outlining its recommendations regarding the issues surrounding the SPS for meat products.
The BAI recently held consultations with stakeholders regarding the underutilization of approved and issued SPS for meat and as well as the apparent practice of the importers to secure “back-up” SPS for their shipments.
To address the issues raised by BAI, MITA suggested that the validity period of meat SPS should be prolonged to 120 days from the current 90-day expiry and should have the possibility of a one-time 30-day extension as well.
MITA explained that some of the SPS end up unused because logistical woes continue to “plague” global trade, which includes meat shipments. It has even become worse, MITA argued, because of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
“Exporters still experience canceled bookings or refused bookings from carriers due to port congestion issues in the Philippines [that has now spread to the transshipment ports] that could
last for several weeks,” the group said in its letter, a copy of which was obtained by the BusinessMirror.
MITA explained that prolonging the validity of the SPS and allowing a one-time extension would be able to cover the import arrivals of meat products, which has averaged between 90 days to 120 days in the country.
It is also because of the delayed arrivals of imported meat products why importers secure “back-up” SPS to be able to cover their shipments upon their arrival in the country, according to MITA.
MITA explained that because of the delays in shipping, the SPS for the concerned shipments are already expired when the meat products arrive in the country. The group added that it is possible that some of the SPS approved and issued by BAI are overlapping or intended for the some identical shipments of meat products.
“It was further observed that many importers apply for ‘backup’ permits because their BOC [Bureau of Customs] accreditation is taking unreasonably long to renew,” the group said.
“We are told even applications made two months before expiry of the importers license is no guarantee that it will be released in time prior to arrival of shipments,” it added.
MITA also proposed that the SPSIC, like its predecessor the veterinary quarantine certificate, must be transferable to remove the need for application of the supposed back-up import permits.
“We believe making the SPS transferable will remove the need to apply for backup permits and clean up the data, making it more accurate and transparent. As an added benefit, it will help address the congestion issue at our ports by allowing exporters to resell loads their original customers can no longer accept,” it said.
“Presently, if the original importer is unable to clear the cargo, it is almost often left at the port to be eventually abandoned because current regulations make it impossible to issue a new permit for a container that has already departed from the port of origin,” it added.
In its letter, MITA allayed the fears of BAI that making the SPS transferable would be prone to abuse by smugglers. The group argued that SPS applications are done online, hence, the government would have a digital record of every application made.
“Presumably our port inspectors have access to such electronic records. Therefore, any recycled SPS will be detected,” it said.
Image credits: PNA