The Philippines, one of the top pork importers in the world, is seen doubling its pork imports to 350,000 metric tons (MT) this year amid the Duterte Administration’s decision to temporarily cut the tariff rates for the commodity.  

This is based on the latest report released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which ranked the Philippines as the world’s sixth world largest pork importer.

The world’s top pork importers China and Japan are expected to import 4.85 million MT and 1.43 million MT of pork this year, respectively. Hong Kong is seen importing 360,000 MT of pork this year and South Korea, which may import 645,000 MT of pork.

A customer pays for pork at a roadside market stall in Mandaluyong City, Manila, the Philippines. (Bloomberg file)

From its earlier forecast of 200,000 MT of pork imports for the Philippines, USDA now expects the country to import as much as 350,000 MT of pork, more than double of last year’s 167,000 MT.

“The Philippines is expected to see imports more than double amid a domestic pork supply shortfall and changes to its tariff rate quota system,” USDA said.

“China demand is expected to moderate from the record levels of last year and will offset higher expected exports to Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines,” it added.

The USDA report also expects the Philippines’ local pork production to decline by 10 percent as the deadly animal disease African Swine Fever (ASF) continues to constrain output.

USDA earlier expected the Philippines to produce 1.08 million MT of pork (carcass) for this year, which is lower than last year’s production of 1.12 million MT. But in its latest report, the agency now only sees the Southeast Asian nation producing 1 million MT of pork only. Such an output is lower than the country’s 1.35 million MT expected demand for pork this year.

To boost supply of pork, President Duterte has already issued  Executive Order 128 to cut the import tariff for fresh, chilled or frozen pork under the minimum access volume (MAV) quota to 5 percent from 30 percent for the first three months of the order’s implementation.

The MAV rate will then be increased to 10 percent in the next nine months. The MAV tariff rate will return to the 30 percent tariff rate one year after EO 128 is implemented.

For pork imports outside the quota, the tariff rate will be cut to 15 percent from 40 percent for the first three months of the EO’s effectivity. It will be raised to 20 percent in the next nine months and will be back to 40 percent after a year.

Aside from the reduction in tariff, President Rodrigo Duterte also sided with DA for its other proposal, which is to increase the MAV allocation for pork imports this year by 350,000 MT.

However, such a move will need the approval of Congress, which is not that keen on granting DA’s request.

In a statement the other day, members of the Congress, led by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, said they are “one with the livestock sector in expressing its opposition to the volume being requested by DA”.

This, as industry data and data provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) only showed the Philippines will only have a shortage of 150,275 MT of pork this year.

“Allowing importation beyond the shortage and with a lower tariff will cause oversupply not only in Luzon, but also in the Visayas and Mindanao where there is ample supply of pork,” the congressmen said in a letter to Duterte.

Source: Manila Bulletin (