MEAT IMPORTERS have requested the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to confine its import bans to meat sourced from regions affected by African Swine Fever (ASF), instead of imposing blanket bans on entire countries.

In an Aug. 12 letter, the Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA) said the Philippines should compartmentalize its bans in accordance with guidelines set by the World Organization for Animal Health.

“We pointed out that the Philippines is practicing regionalization with regard to Avian Influenza,” MITA said in a letter signed by its president Sherwin Choi and president emeritus Jesus C. Cham.

“This should also be made to apply to ASF, not only domestically but also internationally. We request that the BAI adopt the principle of regionalization in accreditation of countries of origin,” it added.

Such a policy would boost the sourcing options for pork, the group said.

The letter follows a meeting between MITA and the BAI on Aug. 8.

MITA also proposed admitting imported pork that is in its original packaging and not tampered with, stored in accredited cold storage warehouses (CSWs). It also sought free movement for products which have never left the custody of the accredited CSW.

“This is necessary to improve availability of supply and temper inflationary pressures,” it said.

MITA also recommended a one-time registration for each foreign meat establishment (FME) instead of importers registering import shipments separately, which it called “cumbersome.”

“As we deal with commodity products, the selfsame item from one FME is traded by numerous exporters. A single importer may buy the same item from 10 different exporters,” it said.

“It is simpler to register one FME instead, distinguishing meat from offal, without going through the individual items,” it added. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera