The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) has proposed the scrapping of the minimum access volume (MAV) tariff-setting policy that designates lower duties to agricultural imports, saying a uniform 35-percent should be imposed on all agricultural products being shipped into the country.
In an interview on Friday, PCAFI president Danilo Fausto said the proposal was made during the meeting between the country’s food producers and Department of Agriculture (DA) officials led by Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel at the DA main offices on Thursday.
Fausto said the PCAFI proposed to remove MAV tariff-setting policy designating lower duties to agricultural imports, as long as they fall within volumes agreed upon with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“The 1995 policy is long outdated, and food producers would rather have a uniform rate of as high as 35 percent on all agricultural goods being shipped into the country,” he said.
Fausto said it was explained to the DA that the policy has been rendered unnecessary when one considers that the MAV-approved volume for chicken imports is only 23.5 metric tons annually, when in reality, the Philippines imported around 400 MTs of dressed chicken in 2023.
He added the PCAFI also proposed that revenues collected from the Safeguard Measures Act (Republic Act 8800) be reverted back to the industry where it was collected to enhance its global competitiveness.
He said the law has seen the collection of some PHP11.5 billion from the local dairy industry between 2018 and 2022, but the National Dairy Authority, a DA attached agency, only has an annual budget of PHP500 million.
“Revenue collection from the food producing sector should be spent on improving the sector because, in the first place, RA 8800 was intended to relieve domestic industries’ suffering from serious injury as a result of increased imports,” he said.
Fausto said PCAFI is optimistic that their proposals will be addressed the soonest possible time following their “fruitful and candid” meeting with Tiu-Laurel and other DA officials.
Their optimism was strengthened by the DA chief’s initiative for regular consultations, or every 45 days, with the country’s food producers to “ensure that all stumbling blocks to the attainment of food security be addressed at the soonest.”
“He was very open-minded and was genuinely interested in learning about our (food producers) problems. After all, we both want the same thing… to enhance the country’s food productivity,” he said.
“He (the secretary) promised to immediately look into our proposals and we will discuss it again during our meeting in March. We are optimistic,” Fausto said.
Meanwhile, DA Undersecretary Deogracias Victor Savellano said during the meeting that the “new-found cooperation between the private sector and the incumbent DA leadership is truly confidence-inspiring.”
He said that with close collaboration between the DA and food producers, the Marcos administration’s ambitious goal of boosting the country’s food production capacity five-fold “just became doable.”
“What was really great about our meeting with them (PCAFI) is that it was not just an unloading of gripes or an enumeration of problems. Constructive proposals were made. Targets were set. Deadlines for concrete action were also set,” Savellano said.
He added the regular consultations will guide the government’s policy-making on achieving food security within President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s term. (PNA)