Duterte lowers tariff rates on imported rice, modifies tariff on pork products

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) – To ensure food security in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the reduction of tariff rates on imported rice and the adjustment of the previously lowered tariff on pork products.

Under Executive Order No. 135, tariffs for imported rice were lowered to 35% from its previous in-quota rate of 40% and out-quota rate of 50% for a period of one year.

"The tariff reduction took into consideration the increase in global rice prices, and the uncertainties surrounding the steady supply of rice in the country," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

The Agriculture Department previously said the country is expected to import 1.69 million metric tons of rice this year. 

Meanwhile, Executive Order No. 134 modified Executive Order No. 128, where reduced tariff rates on pork products will be increased to 10% (in-quota) and 20% (out-quota) for the first three months, and 15% (in-quota) and 25% (out-quota) from the fourth to the 12th month.

Under EO 128 - signed by Duterte last April 7 - tariff rates for imported pork meat were dropped from 30% (in-quota) and 40% (out-quota) to 5% (in-quota) and 15% (out-quota) for the first three months and 10% (in-quota) and 20% (out-quota) from the fourth to the 12th month.

"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," Roque said.

Duterte recently placed the country under a state of calamity due to the impact of the African Swine Fever on the hog industry. 

Last April 15, senators adopted a resolution urging Duterte to withdraw EO 128 due to the ASF outbreak.