The Meat Importers and Traders Association on Sunday expressed concern over possible trade retaliation by Brazil after the Department of Agriculture banned the entry of Brazilian poultry products except for mechanically deboned meat.
“I hope it is confined to poultry alone and does not spill over into beef and pork,” said MITA president Jesus Cham.
Cham said the Philippine meat processing industry was facing another threat—the looming increase in import duty of chicken MDM from 5 percent to 40 percent in 2021. He said if Brazil refused to export beef into the Philippines, it would further exacerbate the already precarious position of meat importers and processors.
He said Brazil is a major supplier of boneless beef that goes into burger patties and delivered to restaurants.
Cham said while the Philippines was importing dark chicken meat from the United States, Brazil was the main supplier of white meat and boneless meat. The impact will be felt more by the casual dining restaurants, he said.
“The impact will be painful, especially with the price of pork reaching historic highs due to the scarcity brought about by African swine fever,” said Cham. He said this would lead to Filipino consumers having less affordable choices for meat.
The Philippines banned Brazilian meat for a short time in previous year because of the alleged presence of salmonella but the Office Internationale des Epizooties said the mere discovery of salmonella was not a sufficient justification to ban.
The DA imposed a ban on poultry imports from Brazil in August this year on alleged reports about coronavirus being detected on chicken wings bound for China. However, it was the Philippines and not China that imposed a ban on Brazil products.
Brazil threatened to file a case against the Philippines before the World Trade Organization over what it called “unjustified” restriction on poultry imports from the country.
The Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil in a letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs on Oct. 19 questioned the two memorandum orders issued by the Department of Agriculture restricting poultry imports from Brazil.
“Since such an unjustified and undue barrier has not been lifted so far, Brazil is determined to resort to the appropriate multilateral fora, including the filing of ‘Specific Trade Concerns’ to the detriment of the Philippines at the WTO, anchored by the guidelines recommended by that organization,” the Brazilian Embassy said in the letter.
The DA Memorandum Order No. 39 on Aug. 14 imposed a temporary ban on poultry imports from Brazil while MO 42 on Sept. 7 lifted the ban on poultry MDM from Brazil but retained the ban on other poultry imports from the country.
Cham said the Philippines could not afford to lose the graces of another trading partner as the Philippines accounted for only 2 percent of Brazilian exports. The Philippines imported 800,000 metric tons of meats in 2019, of which about 20 percent came from Brazil.
Cham said meat processors were working very hard to provide shelf products to the consumers during the quarantine.
“The declaration of a state of emergency by the president has ‘frozen’ the price of these items. However, it is clearly obvious that production cost has gone up due to numerous additional expenses that need to be incurred. The ban on Brazilian poultry is an added blow,” he said.
Cham said many companies were merely trying to survive during this period.