Don’t use meat as bargaining chip — hog farmers

July 23, 2012 at 1:55 am Leave a comment

Hog farmers and poultry sectors advocates are holding on to the commitment of the Aquino administration not to use the livestock and poultry sectors as “bargaining chip” in negotiating with the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the three-year extension of the country’s quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice.
The quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice allow the Philippines to impose higher tariffs on rice imports beyond the minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons under the WTO-Agriculture.
Imports of rice within the MAV are subject to a 40% duty, while imports in excess are subjected to 50% rate.
Swine Development Council convenor and Party-list group Abono chairman Rosendo So expressed full support to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala’s position not to use the livestock and poultry sectors, which represent 25 percent of the country’s agriculture with a combined production value of P320 billion annually, in renegotiating for another extension of the country’s QR on rice imports.
According to So, Secretary Alcala has assured them that the interest of the local livestock and poultry sectors would not be sacrificed when the Philippines renegotiates for the extension of the qualitative restriction on rice.
Because of this, the SDC and Abono official thanked Alcala for strongly advocating for the interest of the agriculture sector, which is considered to be “the primary engine of economic growth of the people in the countryside.”
So told Alcala: “We thank you very much for your verbal assurance that the livestock and poultry sectors will not be used as bargaining chips in the renegotiation for another extension on the quantitative restriction for rice.”
In an effort to stave-off a flood of imported rice, the Philippines is currently in talks with the WTO and is trying to convince the trade body to extend the limits on the importation of rice known as “quantitative restrictions” (QRs), which have been enjoyed by country since June 2006.
The restrictions on rice imports which ended last June 30, 2012 had allowed the government some control in protecting local rice producers and consumers from the influx of imported rice by allowing the government to impose higher tariffs on rice imports beyond a certain volume.
The United States, however, has opposed the Philippine government’s bid for extending the restriction on rice imports until 2015 with the Americans claiming that Philippine regulations on imported meats already pose a threat to the US exports of pork into the country. More than half of the Philippine’s pork imports come from the United States and Canada.

The US wants the Philippine’s Department of Agriculture to rescind its administrative orders on the handling of frozen and freshly slaughtered meat, which the Americans claim, are heavily lopsided against imported meat products.
Earlier reports said the DA offered the mechanically deboned meat (MDM) tariff for hog and poultry during international trade talks to extend the QR on rice until 2017. Easing the tariff on imported meats seriously endanger the local backyard hog raisers, So warned.
Daniel P. Javellana Jr., chairman of the National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc., shared the sentiments of So, even as he expressed strong objection to the reduction of tariff rates for chilled swine and frozen meat from the current 30-40 percent rate to just 5 % or a net reduction of 25-to 35%.
“We categorically and formally state our opposition to this reduction in tariff rates as a trade off for extension of the Rice Special Treatment (ST) / Quantitative Restriction (QR). Any reduction in the current tariff rates will substantially affect the viability of the hog industry,” Javellana said, in his June 11, 2012 letter to Secretary Alcala.
“This will mean prime cuts can be imported legally and sold in wet markets at 25-35% less than locally sourced meat,” he added.

Entry filed under: News.

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