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Philippines
Friday, May 31, 2024

PBBM extends import tariffs of rice, corn, meat

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. extended for another year the temporary modification of import duty rates on rice, corn, and meat products to ensure a stable supply and prices of basic goods amid the negative impact of the El Niño phenomenon and the African swine fever on agricultural produce.

“The ongoing El Niño phenomenon, forecasted to last until the first half of 2024, is expected to negatively impact the production and prices of agricultural commodities such as rice and corn, both in the local and international markets,” the President said in Executive Order No. 50.

“The continuing prevalence of ASF as well as trade restrictions in some exporting countries also causes uncertainty in the country’s steady supply of rice, corn, and meat of swine (fresh, chilled, or frozen),” Mr. Marcos added.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, which the President chairs, earlier this month endorsed the temporary extension of the reduced Most Favored Nation (MFN) rates applicable to rice, corn, and swine meat (fresh, chilled, or frozen) until Dec. 31, 2024.

This meant a 35 percent tariff reduction in rice imports, both in-quota and out-quota.

But average inflation in 2023 will hit 6.4 percent according to NEDA, higher than the government target of 2 to 4 percent.

Farmers were up in arms over this decision, saying this will only lead to higher prices of the staple grain next year.

The group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) said it was “very unfortunate” that the Marcos economic team “once again dangled the ‘rising food prices’ to penalize local producers and promote the interests of a few privileged importers and favored traders.”

Local producers had nothing to do with the spiraling cost of staples, especially rice, said Jayson Cainglet, Executive Director of SINAG.

“All countries are affected by El Nino, by the war in Ukraine. But we are impacted more since we have relied on imports for the longest time,” he said.

Mr. Marcos, however, said in the EO: “The present economic condition warrants the continued application of the reduced tariff rates… to maintain affordable prices for the purpose of ensuring food security, managing inflationary pressures, help augment the supply of basic agricultural commodities in the country, and diversify the country’s market sources.”

The President has the authority to adjust import duty rates in the interest of general welfare and national security, based on recommendations from NEDA.

Mr. Marcos ordered the NEDA Committee on Tariff and Related Matters to submit its findings and recommendations for the semestral and annual review of the tariff rates.

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