October 21, 2009
The Philippines is seeking deferment of the tariff reduction next year under the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) not only for rice and sugar, but also for livestock and poultry amid calls from farmers who say they are not yet ready to compete with cheaper imports, said Ambassador Donald Dee, special envoy for international trade negotiations.
The tariff for poultry, at 40 percent, and swine, at 35 percent, are supposed to be slashed next year--along with those for rice, sugar and corn--to anywhere between zero and 5 percent.
But the steep tariff wall has not allowed the livestock and poultry industry to supply the country's requirement.
About 20 million kilos of pork are due to arrive in two tranches in November to avert a possible shortage this Yuletide season, said Assistant Agriculture Secretary Salvador Salacup, adding the volume of importation was arrived at after meeting with leaders of the hog industry.
Another 5 million kilos of chicken would also be imported at about the same time.
The farm gate price for live chicken in the Philippines in August was P66 (US$1.41) a kilogramme, 41 percent higher than Thailand's P48 (US$1.03), according to the United Broilers and Raisers Association.
The local farm gate price of swine was P85 (US$1.82) a kilo compared with P60 (US$1.29) in Thailand.
Trade Secretary Peter Favila earlier said Thailand was inclined to accommodate the Philippine bid to delay the tariff reduction for sugar, but that it needed more concessions from the Philippines before Bangkok would agree to Manila's request on the rice issue.
Rice is the only product that is in the Philippines' highly sensitive list. Products in this list are accorded an extended tariff cover beyond 2012.
The tariff on rice is now pegged at a 40 percent for in-quota and 50 percent for out-quota.
In the case of sugar, Favila said the government are invoking a special protocol that allows the Philippines to make use of flexibilities under Afta. These flexibilities would include elevating sugar from the inclusion list to the highly-sensitive list and affording it tariff cover beyond 2010, he said.
Under the sensitive list, sugar was scheduled for tariff reduction to 28 percent in 2010 from 38 percent in 2009.