By Gillian M. Cortez
THE Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said it is looking into the corn milling and trading industry as one of its priority sectors for competition analysis and enforcement in 2019.
“Competition in corn has a significant impact on consumers,” PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan said in an interview with BusinessWorld.
Mr. Balisacan added, “Corn is a very critical and major crop in the Philippines. Many of our farmers are dependent of that industry,” with far-ranging impact on employment and agricultural earnings.
“If you look at the sectors in agriculture, it’s one of the biggest sectors in terms of employment and value added output,” Mr. Balisacan said.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported in its Philippine Agriculture Report for April to June 2018 that despite the decrease corn production, the gross value output of corn and other crops for April to June 2018 was P241.9 billion. Corn’s gross receipts were up 20.40% due to higher prices.
PCC wants to look specifically into corn and the livestock industry, where it sees possible anti-competition issues.
“Corn is a vital input in feeds used by the meat and livestock industries,” he said.
He added, “We wanted to find out to what extent there are competition in the sectors that might explain why prices of meat are high.”
PCC’s priority sectors and industries for 2018 in competition analysis and enforcement are the following: Air transportation, bakery products, E-commerce, fertilizers, land transportation, manufacturing, milk products, pharmaceuticals, poultry & livestock, retail, rice, and rural finance.
For 2019, PCC will also look into its current priority sectors along with corn milling and trading; sugar; pesticides; logistics supply chain; and refined petroleum manufacturing and trading.
PCC said that it plans to write “issues” papers outlining factors that affect industries, similar to the proposed analysis of the relationship between the corn and livestock industries.
“The issues paper we’ll do will give us an overview of the various factors influencing the performance of an organization in the industry (and) what’s constraining them, whether competition is part of the narrative,” he said.
Regarding fertilizer, Mr. Balisacan said that agriculture productivity is reliant on them, and the PCC would like to rule out the sector as a barrier to achieving inclusive growth.
“In many countries, fertilizer is often a subject of competition and we would like to find out in our effort to push for more inclusive development that this sector is not problematic as far as the competition lens is concerned,” Mr. Balisacan said.