By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios
The outlook about the imminent challenges that the Philippines faces in terms of the supply of agricultural products such as pork, corn, and other allied commodities raises a red flag not just to the food manufacturers but also to consumers. Apart from this, concerns about the high inflation rate, high cost of importation and shipping cost, demurrage due to erratic transit time and pork congestion, food supply, and African Swine Fever (ASF), among others, remain unabated challenges that impact inflation and food security.
On December 22, 2023, President Bong Bong Marcos Jr. signed and approved the extension of lowered tarrifs for meat and other products like rice and corn until December 31, 2024, which was widely welcomed by various foreign trade sectors calling it a win-win solution in the food security and inflation.
However, when the news about the planned cancellation of the Department of Agriculture to temporarily suspend the minimum access volume (MAV) on pork and corn which may cause an inflationary impact on the Philippine market has caused some concerns that is also brought up by the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP).
BCCP Executive Director/Trustee Chris Nelson noted that the British Chamber advocated for the reduced tariffs on agricultural commodities including pork, within the last two consecutive extensions. This consistent support is aligned with its objective of ensuring food security and easing inflation–recording its lowest rate at 2.8% in January 2024 since October 2020.
In an interview, Nelson further stated, “We are very strong supporters of the extension of the Executive Order , we believe strongly that allowing pork to come at lowered tariff rates is a help for inflation and food security. In that context, we would not wish to see a suspension of MAV. As we’ve discussed on previous programs, pork supply has been impacted locally due to African Swine Fever and there’s definitely a need to continue pork imports further.”
To further assist the local agricultural sector, Nelson also reiterated the need to pass the Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act to provide more stringent measures to protect the local farmers and consumers against smugglers, hoarders, and profiteers.
Additionally, the British Chamber further noted in its official statement last Thursday, “The British Chamber maintains its commitment to ensuring food security and helping with inflation by introducing quality British meat and establishing long-term relations with the importers to support the Philippine market.”
The British Chamber is set to conduct a market briefing on Wednesday with the UK Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Head of International Trade Development, Jonathan Eckley and officials from the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Agriculture which will reinforce the importance of British pork exports to the Philippines.