THE Cabinet-level committee on tariffs plans to oppose an increase in duties on imported chicken and turkey in mechanically deboned meat (MDM) form, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.
The committee is considering a proposal to raise the tariff to 40% from 5% on these MDM products, used mainly by food processors.
An executive order (EO) keeping the tariff at 5% expired on Dec. 31. The expiry means the duty reverts to 40% unless President Rodrigo R. Duterte signs a new order.
Mr. Lopez said that the Cabinet-level Committee on Tariff and Related Matters will submit a recommendation to the President to issue a new order retaining the 5% tariff, in the interest of keeping consumer prices in check.
“There is no need to increase the tariff to 40% because there (are) no local producers to protect,” he told reporters in a mobile message Monday.
MDM is used in canned and processed meat products which form a significant part of the consumer basket, many of which are subject to price controls.
“(Higher tariffs) will only increase (the) cost and prices of most canned meat products that are also part of basic goods in the SRP or suggested retail price system,” Mr. Lopez said.
Members of the committee, he said, will complete their official endorsement today, noting that all members have informally expressed their support for the retention of 5% duties.
The President’s Spokesman Herminio L. Roque, in a briefing Monday, said that the Office of the Executive Secretary is awaiting the formal recommendation of the committee.
Customs Assistant Commissioner and Spokesman Vincent Philip C. Maronilla said in the absence of an executive order, the Bureau of Customs will for the moment implement the 40% tariff.
“A memorandum to that effect will be issued. However, this does not prevent importers from availing of the remedy of payment under protest or to seek refunds if and when an EO is issued with retroactive application,” he said in a mobile message. — Jenina P. Ibanez