Seeking Lower Pork Prices, Senate and Palace Reach 'Compromise' on Imports

Finance chief to announce details soon.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Wednesday he reached a "compromise" with Malacanang over President Rodrigo Duterte's order that seeks to lower pork prices by reducing tariffs.

Senators were worried that Duterte's Executive Order 128 would hurt hog raisers. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III is expected to announce the agreement with the Senate, Sotto said.

"We had to strike a balance between accepting a formula in the reduction of inflation and the protection of the local swine industry," Sotto said. The EO "will be amended," he said.

High pork prices in recent months have accelerated food inflation as quarantined consumer grapple with the deepest recession since World War II.

The EO sought to reduce the tariff rate on pork products to a 5% to 10% range if within the minimum access volume or MAV and to a 15% to 20% range if outside the MAV. The current rates were at 30% to 40%

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Senators were concerned that lower tariffs along with the proposed increase in MAV to at least 400,000 metric tons from the current 54,000 metric tons would only hurt the local hog industry.

The Senate Committee of the Whole in April approved a resolution urging Duterte to withdraw EO 128 and recall the recommendation to increase the MAV on pork imports.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, however, said in an earlier Senate hearing that increasing the MAV on pork imports would not "kill" the local hog industry.

Complemented by the lowering of tariff rates, he maintained that increasing the MAV will "help reduce and stabilize retail prices" on pork.

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