Planned 2021 pork imports cut to 254,210 T from 404,000 T
Temporary tariff rates for pork imports revised higher
Adds detail, background
MANILA, May 5 (Reuters) - The Philippines has decided to reduce its planned pork imports this year under an annual quota scheme to 254,210 tonnes from 404,000 tonnes, and revised the tariff rates higher, the agriculture ministry said on Wednesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte's economic team agreed to adjust the tariff rates that will be imposed for a 12-month period in a compromise deal with senators seeking protection for the local hog industry.
The deal is still subject to Duterte's final approval, the ministry said in a statement.
The Southeast Asian country, the world's seventh-biggest pork importer before local demand was hammered by the pandemic, has been hit hard by African Swine Fever outbreaks that significantly reduced its hog population.
The government is now rushing to address the shortage of pork supply that has pushed inflation beyond target.
Under the revised importation plan, the tariff rates have been adjusted to 10% for in-quota purchases and 20% for out-quota volumes for the first three months, from 5% and 15% respectively.
For the remaining nine months, the tariffs will be pegged at 15% for in-quota purchases and 25% for out-quota imports, up from the previously-approved rates of 10% and 20%, respectively.
"This is an urgent short-term measure," Agriculture Secretary William Dar said. "We need an immediate strategy to temper the current high pork price situation."
Philippine pork production was estimated to have dropped 20% last year as the highly infectious animal disease prompted the culling of hundreds of thousands of pigs.
In the first quarter of this year, the lingering disease resulted in a further 26% contraction in hog population.
Aside from increasing pork imports, the government is embarking on a massive pig repopulation programme to boost long-term domestic meat supply.
(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz, editing by Louise Heavens)
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