MAKATI – The Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM), Chaired by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, together with Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and other member-agencies, proposed supply-side interventions to minimize the impact of inflation and lower the prices of agricultural commodities.

Based on the report of Tariff Commission, modifying the tariff rates will not have a significant impact on the prices of agricultural products because many of these have relatively lower tariff base already, or would have landed costs lower than local prices. After consulting with various stakeholders as well as the current status of tariff rates, there’ll be minimum movement if we bring the tariff to 5 percent. So, this would not be the solution. Instead, we focus on supply-oriented actions and volume enhancements that would have immediate impact,” said Sec. Lopez.

During the CTRM meeting on 15 August, potential solutions to reduce inflation as well as the results of the public hearing on the proposed tariff modification on meat, edible offal, fish, edible vegetables, feed wheat, and corn were discussed.

It was concluded that the reduction on most favored nation (MFN) rates will not significantly reduce prices as the agricultural products are already being sourced from Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners under lower preferential rates.

We need to focus our efforts in finding realistic and practical solutions to lower the prices while balancing the interests of both consumers and producers,” Sec. Lopez added.

Meanwhile, the DA had issued a Certificate of Necessity allowing a maximum 17,000 MT of galunggong to be imported by accredited fish importers. The articles will only be unloaded in Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-accredited cold storage facilities and will be sold in Navotas Fishport.

We’re also amending the Fisheries Administrative Order No. 195 to allow the sale of imported fish in wet markets,” said Sec. Piñol.

DA also requested the Bureau of Customs to temporarily suspend of the imposition of Special Safeguard Measures on chicken meat imports.

In the case of pork supply, it was reported that MAV certificate holders utilize 50% only of their allocations. Sec. Piñol directed MAV certificate holders to utilize their allocations, otherwise, these can be cancelled and rebidded to others.

DTI and DA will also be conducting regular inspection of commodity importers’ warehouses to establish level of inventory. Likewise, arrival and distribution of NFA rice imports will also be monitored.

The CTRM meeting was attended by the departments of Finance (DOF), Budget and Management (DBM), Foreign Affairs (DFA), Labor and Employment (DOLE), Agrarian Reform (DAR), and Transportation (DOTr). Representatives of the Office of the Executive Secretary, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Tariff Commission, Board of Investments (BOI), and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) were also present. ♦

Date of Release: 20 August 2018