Extension of low tariff scheme seen encouraging more UK pork shipments

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THE volume of pork shipped in from the UK will likely increase with the extension of a low-tariff scheme designed to contain inflation, the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) said.

“We anticipate further growth in our pork exports in 2023, although the base is now higher, and therefore the growth rate may slow down,” Chris T. Nelson, BCCP executive director, said via Viber.  “That would be a great start.”

The Philippines is the second-largest market for British meat in Asia after China. In 2022, the UK exported over 30,000 tons of pork to the Philippines.

Philippine pork imports from the UK amounted to 25,299 tons in 2021, up 216%.

“Despite the challenges from the last two years, British exports of pork and meat have grown significantly to the Philippines,” Mr. Nelson said.

Earlier this month, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. signed an executive order (EO) extending for a year a scheme of lowered tariffs. Imported pork within the minimum access volume (MAV) quota will continue to be charged 15%, with volumes exceeding the MAV paying 25%. Corn imports within MAV will pay 5% and exceeding MAV 15%. Rice from all producing countries, regardless of the MAV, will pay 35%, the favorable rate previously levied on shipments from Southeast Asian trade partners.

According to the Marcos-era EO, coal will remain at zero duty beyond Dec. 31, but subject to reviewed every six months.

The extension of the low-tariff scheme, originally authorized in a Duterte-era EO, runs until Dec. 31.

“We have been active in lobbying for this move,” Mr. Nelson said, noting that “British meat is undeniably in high demand here in the Philippines, helping address supply chain issues and food security.”

The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. (AmCham) also backed the extension of lower tariffs, citing price increases and the high cost of energy in the Philippines.

“High inflation and high cost of energy (from coal) are part of the reasons for the support. Filipino consumers need all the help they can get at this time,” AmCham Executive Director Ebb Hinchliffe said in a Viber message.

Philippine inflation hit 8.1% in December, the highest reading since November 2008. It is also higher than the 3.1% posted in December 2021.

Filipino-Chinese businesses that also backed the extension said the “lowered tariffs (should) only be temporary to ease any inflationary pressures.”

“Except for coal, we hope the lowered tariffs on pork, rice and corn shall be temporary,” Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. President Henry Lim Bon Liong said via Viber. “We support domestic production of our own foods and energy sources.”

“We support long-term and sustainable reforms and policies to uphold food security and self-sufficiency,” Mr. Lim Bon Liong said.

“We advocate strengthening our Philippine agriculture and manufacturing, giving support most especially to our rice and corn farmers, our hog raisers, our fishermen, and our factories,” he added.

Senator Cynthia A. Villar, who chairs the Senate agriculture panel, said on Monday that the Philippines’ supply of pork has exceeded domestic demand since 2019.

Ms. Villar said the estimated supply of 2.6 million tons of pork between 2019 and 2022 exceeded domestic demand of 1.7 million tons of pork.

Last week, Jayson H. Cainglet of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, told BusinessWorld that the farmgate of live hogs was only at P160 to P180 per kilo.

“Government data would show that cold storage for pork imports are overflowing beyond their capacity,” he said. “Week in and week out, we have 110 million plus (tons), the biggest recorded stock of pork imports.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza