THE GOVERNMENT should admit pork imports with zero tariffs on an emergency basis to ease the price increases for the commodity, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) said.

According to a letter addressed to Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, PAMPI President Felix O. Tiukinhoy, Jr. said removing tariffs on pork imports can be done on an emergency basis to address high pork prices and tight supply.

Mr. Tiukinhoy said hog farmers and producers that are registered with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) should be given the green light to directly import up to 50,000 metric tons of pork and more if needed, at zero tariff.

He added that it is not unusual for producers to import goods in emergency situations, in order to continue being able to supply consumers.

“Our recommendation, we believe, is a much better way of alleviating the plight of the hog sector at no cost to the government rather than giving them financial dole-outs,” Mr. Tiukinhoy said.

Mr. Tiukinhoy said the National Meat Inspection Service must temporarily ease a ban on the sale or display of frozen meat products in public markets which do not have refrigeration facilities, for the duration of the shortage.

He added that the Land Bank of the Philippines needs to provide financing and trade credit to qualified hog raisers and production at concessional rates.

This will provide “hog farmers and producers… the opportunity to generate income and compensate for huge losses arising from the African Swine Fever (ASF),” Mr. Tiukinhoy said.

According to the BAI, the Philippines imported 256.02 million kilograms of pork in 2020, down 23.8%. Spain accounted for 30.2% or 77.42 million kilograms, followed by Canada at 17.7% or 45.28 million kilograms, and the US at 17.4% or 44.56 million kilograms.

In a virtual briefing Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said PAMPI’s recommendation will be discussed by the Committee on Tariff and Related Matters on Wednesday, Jan 27.

“We are also looking into reducing the tariff imposed on pork products imported inside minimum access volume (MAV) and those outside the MAV,” Mr. Dar said.

“Products inside MAV are charged with 30% tariff, while those outside MAV are at 40%. From there, we will make adjustments,” he added.   

According to Mr. Dar, the total number of pigs culled since the detection of ASF in 2019 has hit 500,000, with the majority of the animals owned by backyard hog raisers. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave