Processors ask Duterte to allow limited duty-free pork importation

Published January 26, 2021, 11:02 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) is asking President Rodrigo Duterte to authorize limited importation of up to 50,000 metric tons (MT) only at zero tariff at zero.

MB file (Photo by Keith Bacongco)

This developed as the group was not convinced by the proposal of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to triple pork imports under Minimum Access Volume (MAV) to alleviate the shortage of pork in Luzon that was brought about by African Swine Fever (ASF).  

In an official letter sent on Tuesday, PAMPI informed Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar that it is planning to recommend to Duterte three emergency measures to ease the tight supply and high prices of pork in the country.

These measures, according to PAMPI president Felix O. Tiukinhoy Jr., should help mitigate or control “the deepening pork shortage, and to provide an alternative to the MAV plus mechanism to import pork”.  

The group’s first recommendation was that hog farmers and producers duly registered with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) be authorized to directly import up to 50,000 MT of pork, and more if necessary, at zero tariff.

Aside from that, the group proposed state-run Land Bank of the Philippines to provide financing and trade credit to qualified hog raisers and producers at concessional rates.

Lastly, the group suggested National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) to temporarily suspend the implementation of the policy prohibiting the sale/display of frozen meat products in public markets which are not equipped with refrigeration facilities during the duration of the shortage.

PAMPI’s proposal came a day after Dar said DA is already finalizing the plan to triple the MAV allocation for pork imports, from 54,000 MT to more than 160,000 MT, in order to encourage producers and importers to import more of the commodity.

Pork imports under MAV are only levied a 30 percent tariff, while the out-quota tariff is 40 percent.  

Tiukinhoy said his group’s proposals are “intended to provide fiscal support to hog farmers/producers to afford them the opportunity to generate income and compensate for huge losses arising from the ASF decimation of their hog farms”.  

“Our recommendation, we believe, is a much better way of alleviating the plight of the hog sector at no cost to the government rather than giving them financial dole-outs,” he said.

Tiukinhoy explained that as a business practice, it is not unusual for producers to import goods in emergency situations during which they are unable to produce them so that they can continue providing supply to consumers and the general public as well.

The latest data from the NMIS showed that from January 5 to 11, government-accredited cold storages have an inventory of 31,401.29 MT of frozen pork, which is comprised of 27,967 MT imported and 3,433 MT local.

This is lower compared to previous week’s frozen pork inventory, which stood at 38,250 MT, composed of 32,449 MT imported and 5,800 MT local.

Year-on year, however, the latest inventory is still higher than what has been recorded in the same period in 2020, which is 30,294 MT, 25,656 of which was imported while 4,638.45 were sourced locally.

On Monday, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) Chairperson Rosendo So said that instead of increasing imports, the DA should just subsidize the shipment of pork from Visayas and Mindanao to Luzon.

So said that right now, the shipment costs remained high because the government only helps out in the processing of transport permits.