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DA Mulls Protection for Local Hog industry

by 5m Editor
1 December 2010, at 10:44am

PHILIPPINES - The Department of Agriculture may propose raising the tariff rate on imported pork offals, an official said on Monday.

"Local hog farmers have asked the department to review the current 5 per cent duty on pork offal imports. So, this is being studied by department and it may recommend the increase of the duty to the Tariff and Related Matters body," Assistant Secretary for Livestock Davinio P. Catbagan said in a telephone interview.

Pork offals refer to parts usually discarded as waste or set aside for use in meat by-products, including the tail, hooves, blood, head, brain, heart and liver.

"After the [interagency] Tariff and Related Matters body reviews this, it will be forwarding its decision to the President, and only through an Executive Order may the tariff be adjusted," Mr Catbagan said.

Mr Catbagan noted that pork offals are relatively low-priced because these products are treated as waste in markets like the US and Canada. "They consider ears, tongue, cheeks, intestines, etc. as waste; but in the Philippines, these are used in our food," he said.

The 5 per cent duty on imported pork offals is mandated through Executive Order (EO) No. 84 issued on 15 March 2002. Under that EO, pork offals -- except for liver -- were to have a 7 per cent duty in 2002-2003 and 5 per cent starting in 2004, while liver was to have a 5 per cent duty from 2002.

In a separate phone interview, Albert R. T. Lim, Jr., president of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc., welcomed the department’s move. "This is, of course, welcomed by the industry. The influx of cheap pork offals is hurting the local hog industry. These items are supposed to be supplied only to meat processors; however, the products are flooding wet markets," Mr. Lim said, adding that imported pork offals are "much cheaper" than locally-produced pork priced at around P170-P180 per kilogram.

Mr Lim could not say for sure how much imported pork offals are now priced in wet markets, Business World reports.

But Jesus C. Cham, president of the Meat Importers and Traders Association, said separately by phone that an increase in the pork offal import duty would be "unreasonable."

"This is unreasonable thinking, because our local hog producers have not developed a market for offals," Mr Cham said.

"Local hog producers sell whole hogs; so, naturally, they cannot compete with those selling by-products which are the offals. The entry of offals also enables consumers to purchase something cheaper," he argued.

Mr Cham added that it is "unreasonable" to say that pork offals should be supplied only to processors. "Products of the processors - for example, longganisa - will reach the markets in one way or another. It is cheaper to buy raw products, so why should it be available for processors only?"

As of 18 November, shipments of pork offals to the Philippines had reached 48,450 metric tons (MT), 67 per cent more than the 29,000 MT imported last year, Bureau of Animal Industry data showed.

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