INDUSTRY associations said they signed an agreement with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to investigate the technical smuggling of palm oil, a rival product to coconut oil.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) said the other parties to the agreement were the Coconut Oil Refiners Association (CORA) and Fight Illicit Trade.

Jesus L. Arranza, chairman of FPI and president of CORA, said the smuggling of palm oil has cost the government to lose over P45 billion in revenue over six years. It was citing data presented by Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda.

The smuggling takes place via the misdeclaration of palm olein shipments for use as animal feed, allowing the importers to avoid the value-added tax for palm olein declared for use in cooking oil. Such imports declared for use in animal feed were valued at P300 billion.

Mr. Arranza said he has reported his findings to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. who has ordered an investigation.

“With our mandate coming directly from the President, we are leaving no stone unturned in our probe and at the same time hopefully we can come up with mechanisms that will finally put an end to this technical smuggling of palm oil,” Mr. Arranza said.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, domestic production of whole coconuts rose 1% year on year to 4.24 million metric tons, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera