Senators and economic managers have reached a compromise on the conduct of pork importation following a series of discussions, Senate President Vincente Sotto III said on Thursday.
Sotto indicated the parties involved agreed to “strike a balance” between inflation and the protection of the local industry while amending the executive order (EO) signed by President Rodrigo Duterte that allows tariff reduction on pork imports.
“Compromise reached… EO 128 will be amended,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.
“We had to strike a balance between accepting a formula in the reduction of inflation and the protection of the local swine industry,” he added.
Dominguez to bare deal
Sotto did not disclose further details saying that he will let Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez announce the figures they arrived at.
“I’ll let Secretary Dominguez announced the figures we accepted after a seesaw of discussion on both Minimum Access Volume (MAV) and tariff,” he added.
Signed on 7 April, EO 128 approves the lowering of tariff from 30 percent to five percent for in-quota imports, and from 40 percent to 15 percent for out-quota imports.
It complements the earlier endorsement of Duterte to increase MAV on pork importation from 54,210 metric tons (MT) to 350,000 MT.
These policies are based on the suggestions of the Department of Agriculture.
Both chambers of Congress moved to revoke its issuance through separate resolutions in fear that the EO will “kill” the local hog industry.
The two leaders met last week in an attempt to find a middle ground on the pork importation policies after Dominguez defended the controversial EO during the third hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole regarding the country’s food security crisis due to the worsening African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in the country.
On 21 April, the Chief Executive asked lawmakers to give EO 128 two months before assessing if its “intended effects have been realized or met.”
Dominguez vowed previously that the Department of Finance is open to other options in addressing the pork supply problems saying EO 128 is a temporary measure.
“Again, our minds are not closed. We want to achieve together our goal of making sure that there is a reasonable and affordable pork and other feedstock for our consumers, our inflation rate is not damaging to our economy in the long run, and that definitely there is support to pork producers,” he said during the virtual hearing of the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday.
The hearing was held to discuss EO 128, which temporarily cuts import duty on fresh, chilled, or frozen swine meat for a year to help address supply issues brought about by the ASF.
The EO, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed last 7 April, reduced the levy on pork imports under the MAV from 30 percent to 5 percent for the first three months upon the EO’s effectivity, and 10 percent in the succeeding nine months.
Tariffs of pork imports outside of MAV were proposed to be reduced from the current 40 percent to 15 percent for the first three months, and 20 percent for the succeeding three quarters.
Dominguez said the EO is an emergency measure targeted to ensure adequate supply of pork in the country and to help stabilize pork prices.
Prices of pork have risen to over P300 a kilo from around P200 before the supply issues and has contributed greatly to the domestic inflation rate upsurge.