DoF agreed to change EO on pork imports — Sotto

THE AGRICULTURE department on April 9 implemented a suggested retail price for pork kasim at P270 per kilogram and imported pork liempo at P250 per kilogram. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE EXECUTIVE ORDER (EO) reducing the tariff rate for pork imports would be amended after the Senate and the country’s economic managers reached a compromise on the issue, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said on Wednesday.

“Compromise reached… (EO) 128 will be amended,” Mr. Sotto told reporters via Viber.

In a phone interview, Mr. Sotto said they agreed to place the cap on minimum access volume (MAV) for pork imports at 254,000 metric tons (MT).

He said they also agreed to set the tariff rates of pork imports under the MAV quota at 10% for the first three months, and increase it to 15% in the succeeding nine months.

Under EO 128 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in April, the original 30% tariff rate of the pork imports under the MAV quota would be cut to 5% in the first three months and will be raised to 10% for the succeeding nine months.

Mr. Sotto said the EO’s tariff rates outside the quota would be retained. Under the EO, the tariff rate for pork imports outside the quota will be lowered to 15% in the first three months (from the original 40%), and will then be increased to 20% for the following nine months.

“Middle ground kasi pinagbigyan din namin ’yung kahilingin ni Secretary (Carlos G.) Dominguez (III) at tsaka ng economic managers na ito’y makakatulong sa reduction ng inflation in the next few months,” he told BusinessWorld in a phone interview.

Mr. Sotto earlier said the senators and Executive department had to “strike a balance between accepting a formula in the reduction of inflation and the protection of the local swine industry.”

Mr. Duterte on April 7 issued EO No. 128 temporarily reducing the tariff rates on fresh, chilled or frozen pork “to address the existing pork supply shortage, stabilize prices of pork meat and minimize inflation rates.”

Mr. Duterte also asked Congress to increase the pork imports under the MAV quota by 350,000 metric tons (MT), on top of the current 54,210 MT.

However, Congress opposed the government’s pork import policy. Senators on April 15 adopted a resolution urging Mr. Duterte to withdraw the EO, saying Congress has exclusive power to change tariff rates and import quotas under the Constitution. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas