Government Prods Pork Imports, Cites Shortage

PHILIPPINES - The government is encouraging the importation of up to 5,000 metric tons (MT) of pork up to the end of June under a tax subsidy scheme to cover a shortage in supply due to storms and diseases that hit last year and the current dry spell.
calendar icon 26 April 2010
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The move, however, was met with criticism by the associations of pork producers and meat importers and traders, reports

President Gloria M. Arroyo last 12 April signed Executive Order No. 875, which authorizes the Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) to auction off to interested private traders the right to import the commodity under a tax subsidy scheme, by which the government assumes the cost of duties and taxes of the covered imports.

The volume of imports, to be set by the Agriculture secretary, should not exceed 5,000 MT, the EO stated. The authority given to the FTI on this matter will remain valid until 30 June, it added.

"The FTI is hereby authorised to include in its commodity coverage the basic food items, particularly pork, which it may deem necessary to stabilize the country’s pork supply and prices," the EO read.

Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed that prices of pork averaged P180 per kilogram as of 24 April, P10/kg more than in December last year.

Agriculture officials were not available yesterday to provide the estimated shortage in pork supply.

But leaders of the associations of pork producers and meat importers and traders opposed the government move.

Albert R. T. Lim Jr., president of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc., said that an expected shortfall in pork production this quarter is balanced by a shortfall in demand.

"We object to this unnecessary importation," Mr Lim said in a phone interview yesterday. "At this time of the year, the demand for pork is low and there are plenty of hogs in Mindanao, so I don’t see any reason to import."

"It [Palace order] will greatly affect our local production. They should have consulted us first."

He would not give the amounts involved.

Jesus C. Cham, president of the Meat Importers and Traders Association, concurred, noting that only about 30 per cent of some 54,000 MT of pork covered this year by the minimum access volume which are slapped a lower 30 per cent tariff rate have been imported as of this month, so far.

"We are not in favor of this. [Those that will participate in the government scheme] will have undue advantage because they are duty-free," Mr Cham said.

"They should have first made an accounting of last year’s imports and consulted with us."

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