Pork imports under MAV await Duterte’s approval

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    By WENDELL VIGILIA and JED MACAPAGAL

    President Duterte will first have to approve the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture’s advisory council to increase the minimum amount of pork to be imported under the minimum access volume (MAV) to allow additional supplies to arrive in the country, Agriculture Secretary William Dar told lawmakers yesterday.

    Dar told the House joint committees on agriculture and food and trade and industry the resolution by the MAV advisory council recommending to increase the MAV for pork was submitted to Malacañang on Monday night and is now awaiting the President’s signature.

    The measure is meant to give high-priced locally-raised pork sold in wet market competition since imported pork sold in groceries will be cheaper than the price caps set by the government.

    The resolution on MAV seeks to increase the MAV allocation for pork to 404,210 metric tons (MT) from this year’s 54,000 MT.

    The DA advisory council earlier recommended to import all of the expected pork supply deficit of 388,790 metric tons (MT) under current (MAV), a move which was supported by the President.

    MAV refers to the volume of a specific agricultural product allowed to be imported with a lower tariff. Pork imports falling under MAV are levied a 30 percent tariff compared with 40 percent on those outside MAV.

    Apart from the increased MAV allocation, the government is exploring other measures to increase the supply of pork in the country and eventually bring down the price.

    Dar said the Tariff Commission is also finalizing its report and recommendations to the Cabinet committee on tariff and related matters about a “separate proposal to further lower tariff for pork for a period of one year.”

    The government took steps to lower pork prices after it reached much as P420 per kilo for liempo, and P400 per kilo for pigue and kasim in Metro Manila last month as supply ran low because of the African swine fever.

    Because of this, the President approved thr DA’s recommendation to impose a price ceiling for 60 days starting February 8 in the National Capital Region (NCR).

    The prices are P300 per kilo for liempo, P270 per kilo for kasim and pigue, and P160 per kilo for dressed chicken.

    Additional supply of pork for Metro Manila is also currently being sourced from Visayas and Mindanao.

    Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel De Mesa has said Metro Manila’s average daily requirements is at 4,000 hogs while 7,403 hogs are being transported from different regions.

    De Mesa said on a daily basis, Ilocos supplies 926 hogs, Calabarzon with 2,690, Mimaropa with 500, Western Visayas with 429, Northern Mindanao with 1,429 and Soccsksargen also with 1,429.

    Under Section 6 of the Agricultural Tariffication Act, in case of shortage or abnormal price increases in agricultural products, the President may propose to Congress, adjustments to MAV. In the event Congress fails to act after 15 days from receipt of the proposal, it will be deemed approved.

    The DA earlier proposed for the TC to consider lowering the tariff of pork within MAV to 5 percent in the first six months and to 10 percent in the following six months from the current 30 percent.

    Meanwhile, it recommended for the tariff of pork outside MAV to be lowered to 15 percent in the first six months and 20 percent in the following six months from the current 40 percent.

    Data from Bureau of Animal Industry showed the country imported a total of 256,017,459 kg. of pork last year, of which more than 20 percent or 52,320,948 kg. entered under MAV while the remaining 203,696,511 kg. was outside MAV.

    Spain supplied bulk of the pork imports at 77,423,506 kg. or 30 percent, followed by Canada with 45,282,945 kg or 17.6 percent and the United States with 44,559,399 kg or 17.4 percent.