May 5, 2021
Philippine officials to resolve issue concerning move to lower tariffs for pork
The Philippines' Senate President, Vicente Sotto III, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III are expected to meet soon to finalise a compromise on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's move to lower tariffs and raise the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork.
Observers have warned the move would lead to the collapse of the local hog industry.
Senator Manny Pacquiao disclosed the upcoming meeting following a closed-door caucus of senators wherein they discussed the Senate's official stand on the matter to convince Duterte to revise his Executive Order 128 that lowered the tariffs and his directive to raise pork imports under MAV to 350,000 tonnes.
"We're trying to strike a balance on avoiding (high) inflation… it's as if we're killing our local hog raisers and we favor too much importers. It's not acceptable to us in the Senate," Pacquiao said.
He added that Sotto and Dominguez will disuss the proposed levels of tariff and MAV that would be acceptable to all stakeholders, including hog raisers and economic managers, who are concerned that a spike in inflation will further aggravate the pork shortage in Luzon.
Under the order, the tariff on pork imports under MAV quota is reduced to 5% for the first three months of the order's validity and to 10% for the fourth to twelfth month.
For imports outside the MAV, the duty is reduced to 15% on the first three months, and 20% for the fourth to twelfth month of the order's effectivity.
Pacquiao said senators are looking at proposing a range of 15-20% tariffs. He did not say whether the proposed levels are for imports within MAV or outside MAV, or both.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier said it is up to Dominguez whether or not he would accept what senators would lay on the table.
"As a matter of fact, as we speak, some back channeling efforts are underway to work on that compromise… Hopefully, we can find a middle ground that will bring out a win-win solution, or terms that are acceptable to all parties concerned," Lacson said.
The decision of the chamber to offer a compromise tariff rate came after two hearings during which alleged corruption concerning pork imports at the Department of Agriculture was uncovered.