Duterte lowers import tariffs on rice, modifies rates for pork

Published May 15, 2021, 7:24 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The country’s tariff rates on imported rice and pork products will be adjusted for a year in a bid to boost food supply and keep prices affordable, Malacañang announced Saturday.

President Rodrigo Duterte skims through a document as he presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases core members at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on May 10, 2021. (Malacañang)

President Duterte has issued Executive Order No. 135 authorizing the temporary reduction of the Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rates on rice imports to 35 percent.

Executive Order No. 134, on the other hand, seeks to slightly raise the tariff rates on pork imports earlier reduced by the President.

The latest decision was made upon the recommendation of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“On 15 May 2021, to further support efforts in ensuring food security and protect consumers, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte approved the recommendations of the National Economic and Development Authority Board to temporarily reduce the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff rates on imported rice, and to further modify the MFN tariff rates for imported pork products,”​ a Palace statement read.

Under EO 135, the tariff rate for rice imports will be reduced to 35 percent from 40 percent rate for those within the minimum access volume (MAV) or in-quota and 50 percent for out-quota for a period of one year.

The tariff adjustment was made “to diversify the country’s market sources, augment rice supply, maintain prices affordable, and reduce pressures on inflation,” according to the Palace.

“The tariff reduction took into consideration the increase in global rice prices, and the uncertainties surrounding the steady supply of rice in the country,” it said.

A separate EO 134 allows the reduced tariff rates for pork imports to increase to 10 percent (in-quota) for the first three months, raising to 15 percent from the 4th to 12th month. The tariff rates for pork imports outside quota will be 20 percent for first three months, followed by 25 percent for the next nine months.

“The MFN tariff rates for pork products were further modified in recognition of the plight of all concerned sectors and stakeholders, including the local hog industry,” the Palace said.

“Given the continuing spread of African Swine Fever and its adverse effects, the adjusted tariff rates aim to strike a balance between the objective of making pork products available and affordable, and the concerns of all stakeholders especially the recovery of the local hog industry,” it added.

Last April, the President issued EO 128 that temporarily reduces the import tariff rates for fresh, chilled, or frozen pork within MAV quota to 5 percent in the first three months. The rate increases to 10 percent for the 4th to 12th month.

The previous EO also stated pork imports outside quota will be charged 15 percent for the first three months and 20 percent in the next nine months.

The Senate earlier asked the President to revoke his tariff cut on pork imports amid concerns the increase in imports could kill the local hog industry. The Palace said the President has asked the senators to give the EO 128 a chance and promised to revisit the order after two months of implementation.

The tariff adjustment on pork imports comes after the President approved higher import volume for pork to 254,210 metric tons this year, from the current 54,210 metric tons, to augment supply and stabilize prices.

A state of calamity across the country has already been declared due to the African Swine Fever outbreak that affected the local hog industry and caused the spike in pork prices.