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UK chamber of commerce raises concerns on reported plan to suspend MAV for pork imports

THE British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) said on Thursday that it is concerned about the plan to suspend the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork, saying that such a move would affect domestic supply and run counter to existing trade agreements.

“The BCCP has been a consistent advocate of the lowered tariffs on meat and has supported the last two consecutive extensions as this will further assist in augmenting the pork supply,” the chamber said in a statement.

“We are concerned about the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) reported plan on the suspension of MAV for pork and we support the reported comments of MAV Advisory Council (MAC) on the impact on domestic supply and existing trade agreements,” it added.

The MAV is a feature of the global trading system, by which a participating country agrees to open its market to shipments from overseas producers of selected commodities, up to a designated limit.

Citing the Philippine Star, the BCCP said that the suspension could impact the domestic supply of meat and risk trade agreements, including bilateral ones.

“We reiterate our support for Executive Order (EO) No. 50 and its full implementation to manage inflation and food supply,” the BCCP said.

“We hereby acknowledge the role of agriculture in Philippine economic growth, and we look forward to the Bicameral Conference and therefore, the passage of the Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act,” it added.

In December, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. signed the EO 50 which extended a lower tariff regime on pork, rice, corn and coal.

Tariff rates were kept at 15% (within the MAV quota) and 25% (for shipments exceeding the quota) for pork, 5% (within the quota) and 15% (for shipments exceeding the quota) for corn, and 35% (all shipments) for rice until Dec. 31 to help manage down prices.

“The British Chamber maintains its commitment to ensuring food security and helping with the challenge of inflation by introducing quality British meat and establishing long-term relations with the importers to support the Philippine market,” it said.

BCCP Executive Director Chris Nelson has said that total trade in goods and services between the UK and the Philippines grew to 2.9 billion pounds last year, with UK exports to the Philippines accounting for 1.3 billion pounds.

The top exports of the UK to the Philippines include meat and meat preparations. The Philippines is also UK’s second top pork export destination in Asia, next to China.

Asked to comment, DA Undersecretary for Operations Roger V. Navarro said that a meeting regarding the issue is yet to be held.

“However, the committee already has a position which Secretary Kiko (Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr.) will present to the MAV Advisory Council,” Mr. Navarro told BusinessWorld via a Viber message.

The Philippine MAV for pork currently stands at 54,210 metric tons. — Justine Irish D. Tabile