President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the recommendation of his economic managers to temporarily adjust tariffs on imported rice and pork products for a year, according to the presidential palace.

Mr. Duterte approved the measures to “further support efforts in ensuring food security and protect consumers,” his spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said in a statement on Saturday night.

Under Executive Order (EO) No. 135, the President cut the “most-favored nation” tariff rates for rice to 35% for one year, from from 40% in-quota volume and 50% out-quota volume “to diversify the country’s market sources, augment rice supply, maintain prices affordable, and reduce pressures on inflation,” Mr. Roque said.

“The tariff reduction took into consideration the increase in global rice prices, and the uncertainties surrounding the steady supply of rice in the country,” he said.
At the same time, the President adjusted the previously-reduced tariff rates for imported pork “ in recognition of the plight of all concerned sectors and stakeholders, including the local hog industry.”

Under EO No. 134, the tariff rates for pork products will be at 10% for three months under the current 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-quota pork imports from the fourth to 12th month.

Mr. Duterte in April signed an executive order that lowered the import duties on fresh, chilled or frozen pork to 5% from 30% under the MAV quota and 15% for out-quota purchases for three months. The rate was set to increase to 10% for the succeeding nine months.

“Given the continuing spread of African Swine Fever and its adverse effects, the adjusted tariff rates aim to strike a balance between the objective of making pork products available and affordable, and the concerns of all stakeholders, especially the recovery of the local hog industry,” he said.

Mr. Duterte last week signed an order increasing the MAV for pork imports to 254,210 metric tons (MT) from the previous 54,210 MT.

Senators earlier said reducing the tariff rates on imported pork products for one year could kill the local hog industry. – Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza