Tuesday, September 21, 2021
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BOC ordered to guard vs pork smuggling

  • Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has directed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to keep a tighter watch over misdeclared or misclassified pork shipments of importers dodging correct payment of tariffs
  • The current tariff on pork within the MAV is at 30%, while off-quota imports are taxed a higher 40%
  • The Tariff Commission has recommended a lower tariff rate on pork imports from African Swine Fever-free countries within the MAV

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has directed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to keep a tighter watch over misdeclared or misclassified pork shipments by importers attempting to dodge correct payment of tariffs amid the current supply shortfall and retail price spiral.

Dominguez issued the order after President Rodrigo Duterte approved in principle the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to expand the minimum access volume (MAV) allocation for pork imports.

READ: Duterte oks ‘in principle’ more pork imports; hog raisers get transport subsidy

The MAV refers to the volume of quantity of a specific agricultural commodity that may be imported with a lower tariff.

Aimed at boosting pork imports, the DA said the expansion of the MAV will help offset soaring pork prices amid the outbreak of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country, which has significantly reduced the pork output of local producers and jacked up market prices.

“Please take a close look at the potential smuggling of pork,” Dominguez told Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero. BOC is an attached agency of DOF.

Dominguez told Guerrero to watch out for traders possibly misclassifying pork imports once the new MAV allocations and tariff rates are approved by the President.

The current tariff on pork within the MAV is at 30%, while off-quota imports are taxed a higher 40%.

The Tariff Commission (TC) has recommended a lower tariff rate on pork imports, which should come from ASF-free countries, within the MAV.

“Some pork importers may resort to technical smuggling,” Dominguez told Guerrero in issuing his directive during a recent Department of Finance (DOF) executive committee (Execom) meeting.

The National Economic and Development Authority Board Committee on Tariff and Related Matters has also endorsed the proposed increase of MAV for pork and the temporary decrease in the most favored nation (MFN) tariff rates of pork and rice, subject to the proper process and investigation by the TC.

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. also earlier suggested zero tariff on an emergency basis for pork imports to help stabilize prices.

Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura executive director Jayson Cainglet, however, said reducing tariff on pork imports would only help importers, not local hog growers.

Guerrero assured Dominguez that BOC is closely monitoring the imports of meat products, including pork and chicken.

BOC is a member of the new economic intelligence task group that was recently created to go after smugglers, profiteers and hoarders of agricultural products.

The ASF, which first broke out in the country in 2019, has disrupted the operations of hog growers in Luzon, prompting the need for supply to be shipped in from Visayas and Mindanao.

To help address such shortage, DA has partnered with hog raisers from ASF-free areas, particularly from the Visayas and Mindanao, to ship live hogs to Metro Manila.

DA has also implemented special hog lanes or food highways to help boost supply, particularly to Luzon, and ensure unhampered delivery of agricultural products across the country.

Moreover, DA is assisting hog raisers by providing them a P21 transport subsidy per kilo of live pork or of pork in a box that will be transferred from Mindanao to Metro Manila; P15 per kilo from Visayas, Bicol, MIMAROPA, and extreme North Luzon; and P10 per kilo from CALABARZON and Central Luzon.

Dar earlier said they are also planning to fund the fuel requirements of trucks handling pork shipments to Metro Manila.

To contain rising prices, the Philippine government has recently placed a 60-day price cap on pork and chicken products in Metro Manila.

DA is also now coordinating with the United States Department of Agriculture regarding procurement of an ASF vaccine currently being clinically and field-tested in Vietnam.

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