DA studying fish, pork imports for holidays

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pork butcher shop

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is moving to facilitate imports of fish and pork and chicken ahead of the yearend holidays to avert supply problems and their possible impact on prices.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol told reporters on Monday that he will be meeting with stakeholders on Friday to discuss the volume of imports required for pork and round scad, which is better known in the Philippines as galunggong.

“We are going to review whether it is the right time now to allow the entry of additional imports… for meat and whether it is advisable for us to allow entry of fish to ensure security of supply,” he added.

“Since there is a noticeable spike in the price in the market, I will consider issuing a certificate of necessity to allow the entry of additional fish to stabilize the price of fish in the market,” he added.”

Mr. Piñol said he will be holding consultations with hog suppliers in light of rising pork prices.

“According to BAI (Bureau of Animal Industry), the supply of hogs is almost equal to demand so its a very critical situation,” he said.

The Philippines can import up to 54,000 metric tons (MT) of pork under the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) scheme. Mr. Piñol said that he expects to authorize imports of an additional 8,000 MT to 10,000 MT of pork.

Poultry and beef exports are also being considered but are not deemed a priority due to the easier importation process for poultry and lower tariff rates for beef, Mr. Piñol added.

When asked about a proposed executive order to reduce tariffs on fish and meat, Mr. Piñol, however, said that he has yet to discuss with stakeholders.

“But this early, any suggestion to eliminate tariff for both meat and fish will certainly be met with strong opposition from agriculture stakeholders,” he added.

“They feel that in the World Trade Organization agreements they were made the sacrificial lambs. The sector feels that they were sacrificed so that the QR (quantitative restrictions) on rice were retained.” — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato