DTI supports lower tariff for processed meat

Processed food manufacturers in the country who are pushing to maintain the current five percent tariff on imported meat raw materials received support Saturday from Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez.

Sec. Lopez agreed Saturday with members of the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) that keeping tariffs low will prevent any price increase in processed meat products.

He said he will spearhead communication efforts with the Tariff Commission (TC) to maintain the five percent tariff on mechanically deboned meat (MDM) and to separate it from the 40 percent excise the government plans to continue imposing on imported rice.

“I share your position with the five percent tariff for MDM. The tariff should not go back to 40 percent. We believe that this keeps the prices low… if we will not increase tariff on inputs,” he said.

He explained that there is no local production of MDM and a move to increase its tariff is applicable only if there is a local industry that the government is protecting.

“MDM is not a natural product produced in the Philippines. I will be proposing for the continuation to maintain the five percent,” he said.

He added the concern is the stability of prices and making inputs cheaper to avoid business loss.

“Our concern is the stability of prices and we would like to make the inputs cheaper. If we increase the tariff, tataas ang cost ng inputs and the cost of products. Dapat ang cost ng inputs ay binababa, kundi lugi ang nag-manufacture ng processed meat products,” he further said.

He said despite high inflation rate at 5.2 percent this June 2018, prices of processed meat did not escalate.

“Hindi gumagalaw ang presyo ng processed meat kahit tumataas ang inflation,” Lopez told reporters earlier.

PAMPI, composed of the country’s largest meat processing companies, has asked President Rodrigo Duterte for support in ensuring the continuous supply of high-quality raw materials to meet the increasing food requirement of the growing population and the economy.

They are specifically pushing to maintain the five percent tariff on MDM.

Felix Tiukinhoy, Jr., president of Virginia Foods Inc. and PAMPI president, said a 40 percent tariff on MDM will seriously harm their industry, which accounts for P300 billion in annual sales and provide direct and indirect jobs to more than 300,000 Filipinos.

“If it (MDM tariff) goes back to 40 percent, the (meat processing) industry will be in financial trouble,” she said.

MDM is a raw material they use for hotdogs, luncheon meat, corned beef and similar products. Increasing the MDM tariff to 40 percent might push the prices of processed meat products higher.

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