Pork prices at select markets in Metro Manila have remained high despite the surge in imports recorded during the first half of 2020, prompting one of the country’s largest agriculture lobby groups to call out the Department of Agriculture (DA) anew for its pro-importation stance.

The group, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), also called out the failure of the government’s newly implemented lower import tariffs on pork to bring down the cost of the meat product.

In a statement, SINAG Chair Rosendo So said pork prices remained high despite the surge in pork imports and the government’s move to temporarily bring down the tariffs on pork imports.

“Consumers have not benefited from the lowering of tariffs and now have to contend with food safety concerns with thawed imported pork,” So said.

“All our arguments during the marathon hearings in Congress have proven true. Only a handful of importers and their accomplices are reaping the benefits of the lowered tariff,” he added.

In May, President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 134 became effective, effectively lowering both the in-quota and out-quota tariff for pork for a period of one year.

EO 134, which amended EO 128, set the tariffs on pork imports under the minimum access volume (MAV) to 10 percent for the first three months, and 15 percent in the next nine months.

For imports outside the MAV, the tariffs are 20 percent for the first three months and 25 percent for the succeeding nine months.

According to SINAG, such import tariff cuts should have pulled down the landed cost of pork imports to P70/kg to P85/kg.

However, based on DA’s daily price monitoring report, the average retail prices of pork kasim and pork liempo at select markets in Metro Manila stood at P330 per kilogram (/kg) to P360/kg and P370/kg to P380/kg as of July 12, respectively.

This is higher than the suggested retail price (SRP) of P270/kg and P350/kg the DA previously imposed on pork kasim and liempo, respectively.

So said “both consumers and producers are left to fend for themselves” now because of DA’s pro-importation stance.

“Imports are also flooding Visayas and Mindanao,” he added.

Last week, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) here in Manila (Post) raised its pork import forecast for the Philippines to 425,000 metric tons (MT), 21 percent higher than the USDA official forecast of 350,000 MT.

Post said this was “in response to market conditions”, including recently revised and improved market access for imports.

This additional pork supply will be on top of the pork imports that have already entered the country so far for this year.

From January to April, global pork exports to the Philippines already surged by 401 percent from 38,979 metric tons (MT) carcass weight equivalent (CWE) during the same period in 2020 to 195,300 MT, Trade Data Monitor shows.

The majority of the Philippines’ pork imports came from European Union, Canada, United States, Brazil, and the United Kingdom.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/07/12/pork-prices-remain-high-despite-surge-in-imports/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pork-prices-remain-high-despite-surge-in-imports)