The pork price and supply issue has gone haywire. Now, meat importers have petitioned the Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM) to reduce the most favored nation (MFN) duty on pork by at least 50 percent for the next five years in light of the high prices due to supply shortage brought about by African Swine Fever (ASF).
A letter to the National Economic and Development Authority/CTRM Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua and copy furnished to Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, the Meat Importers & Traders Association (MITA) strongly recommended the reduction of duty on in-quota pork from 30 percent to 10 percent and out-quota pork from 40 percent to 20 percent over a five year period or until Dec. 31, 2025.
In asking for the tariff cuts, MITA President Jesus C. Cham cited the current historic high retail prices of pork in the National Capital Region and Luzon, breaching P300 per kilogram in October and now over P500 per kilogram in a Quezon City supermarket.
In addition, MITA said that live hogs from Visayas and Mindanao are being traded at higher prices and low weights. According to MITA, hogs are diverted to Luzon by reducing volume to the locality thereby depriving its very own consumers. MITA said these hogs cannot satisfy the demand of Luzon and the volume brought to Luzon would not be sustainable both in price and volume.
Aside from the pork tariff reduction, MITA also took the opportunity to lobby for the inclusion of duty rate cuts to chicken mechanically deboned meat (MDM). Chicken MDM is a vital raw material of meat processors. The chicken MDM is slated to move up from 5 percent to 40 percent on January 1, 2021. Meat processors have already petitioned the Tariff Commission to retain the 5 percent duty.
“With a lower duty on pork, the meat processors can manufacture more pork-based products and offer more variety and choices to the consumers,” the group said.
MITA further advised the CTRM that reducing the duty on these meat products is not without precedent citing several occasions during the term of then President Arroyo where import duty on port and duty were reduced temporarily.
“The reduction on import duties for the above mentioned pork and chicken MDM will certainly help our country and economy recover from COVID-10 and it will provide our consumers with affordable meat for their protein requirement,” said MITA.
Aside from good nutrition during this health crisis, MITA said the tariff intervention can help rebuild their businesses into a globally competitive industry and the Philippines can consider venturing into the export of pork meat.