DA: Approved recommendation to Duterte on pork import tariffs involves higher rates after 90 days

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 26) — The Agriculture Department said the recommendation revising tariffs for pork imports within the minimum access value (MAV) and those outside it also involves raising rates weeks after they are expected to take effect.

"Na-aprubahan ng Cabinet-level Committee on Tariff and Related Matters na ang taripa po na ire-recomenda kay President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for the first 90 days ay ang taripa po ay 5% in quota and 15% outside the MAV quota," Agriculture Secretary William Dar told CNN Philippines' The Exchange with Rico Hizon.

[Translation: The Cabinet-level Committee on Tariff and Related Matters has approved the recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte which states that the tariff for (imports) in quota will be 5%, while it will be 15% outside the MAV quota.]

The DA wants to increase the country's pork supply to address its price crisis, with higher pork imports among its proposals. The agency wants the MAV to move up to over 404,000 metric tons from the current 54,000 MT. Imports within the MAV are slapped with 30% tariff, while a 40% import levy is placed on those beyond it.

"After 90 days, it will go higher. From 5% yung in quota, magiging 10% at yung MAV out quota ay magiging 20%," Dar said.

[Translation: From 5%, the tariff for in quota (imports) will increase to 10% while the rate for (imports) out of the MAV quota will move up to 20%.]

Pork supply has been taking a hit with affected provinces still reeling from the African Swine Fever, which led to hundreds of thousands of hogs being culled so far to curb the spread of the disease.

With this, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said a balance must be stricken between the plights of suffering local hog raisers, and bringing in tariff-free or almost zero-tariff pork imports to augment supply.

"We have to strike a healthy balance and it has to be temporary. Strategically, we have to support the industry," added Pangilinan—a former Presidential Adviser for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.

"Over 60% of our hog farmers are backyard farmers. These are the 50 heads, 60 heads, 70 heads. Yan ang dapat tuunan ng pansin. Bigyan ng cash assistance, suportahan sa insurance sa halip na magpautang," Pangilinan added.

[Attention should be focused on them. Give them cash assistance, support them with insurance instead of giving them loans.]

Dar said the agency has also launched a repopulation program for both backyard and commercial hog raisers. Hundreds of millions of pesos have also been allocated for lending programs for them, he added.

The Agriculture chief also said the agency has been providing livelihood assistance as well to hog farmers affected by ASF outbreaks.