THE TARIFF Commission plans to hold a public hearing to discuss an increase in import duties on pork products proposed by the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG).

The commission in a notification on Wednesday said that the virtual meeting will be held on June 25. The hearing is part of the commission’s investigation in response to a letter from SINAG.

The farm group wrote to the commission in March asking that tariffs on pork imports within the minimum access volume quota be increased to 44% from 30%, and that out-of-quota imports be set at 44% from the current 40%.

SINAG Chairman Rosendo O. So in the letter said importers were profiting from a tariff rate that has no impact on retail prices of prime pork cuts.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte last month approved a recommendation to temporarily lower tariffs for a year to increase food supply. Pork market prices have been rising due to insufficient supply following the African Swine Fever outbreak.

Under Executive Order No. 134, the tariff rates for pork products were set at 10% under the minimum access volume and 20% outside the quota for the first three months. The tariffs will be at 15% for in-quota and 25% for out-of-quota pork imports from the fourth to 12th month.

Mr. Duterte had previously signed an order increasing the minimum access volume quota for pork imports to 254,210 metric tons (MT) from the previous 54,210 MT.

Senators have said that cutting the tariff rates on imported pork products for a year could kill the hog industry.

Lowered tariffs, Mr. So said in the March letter, will also reduce government revenue needed to support coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination and programs to support the livestock industry. — Jenina P. Ibañez