April 25, 2024


Philippine senator calls for further study of relaxing country's import process of agricultural products




Three Philippine senators on April 22 weighed in on the streamlining of administrative procedures and policies on the importation of agricultural products and removal of non-tariff barriers.


Senator Nancy Binay said the policies related to easing the import process of agricultural products and lifting non-tariff barriers need further study.


She said barriers can create complexities and costs for farmers and consumers, but stressed the importance of ensuring transparency in any administrative measures taken to achieve a more open and equitable market.


"I think, it is important to study and provide an appropriate direction for this policy based on cost-benefit implications on easing importation of agricultural products," Binay said in a statement.


Earlier, Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. issued Administrative Order No. 20 ordering the Department of Agriculture to further streamline administrative procedures and policies on the importation of agricultural products and remove non-tariff barriers to help ensure food security.


Marcos said administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers continue to persist, which had caused continued increase of domestic prices of agricultural commodities despite existing measures.


By evaluating both costs and benefits, Binay wants to ensure that adjustments to import regulations align with the goals of realising food security and fostering a resilient and sustainable agricultural sector.


"While we understand that these barriers often create unnecessary complexities and costs for our farmers and consumers alike, the Department of Agriculture must ensure transparency once administrative measures are eased to achieve a more open and equitable market atmosphere," she said.


Meanwhile, senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero is confident that Agriculture Secretary Francis Tiu Laurel Jr. would address potential abuses and ensure the integrity in the process.


"I agree with the (Philippine) President but I would have preferred that more emphasis is given on local production than importation," he said. He added that importation should only be a temporary solution to the country's needs of agricultural products such as pork and fishery products.


Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros agreed that AO 20 would benefit many but not enough to address the needs of Filipino farmers and businessmen.


"Even if the regulations and non-tariff barriers in importing agricultural products will be eased, the proper use of import permits should still be ensured," Hontiveros said in a statement.


She said food safety should be taken into account, citing the African swine fever which might not be covered by the order.


During the peak of harvest season, Hontiveros said proper tariffs should be imposed on imported products to avoid dumping that causes great losses to farmers, fisherfolk and livestock growers.


Under AO 20, the DA, the Departments of Trade and Industry and Finance are tasked with easing licensing requirements, minimiding processing time and exempting licensed traders from certain registration requirements.



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