Rice tariff fees rise as import volumes rise

Tariffs on RICE, charged by the government in the first five months of the year, rose to 8.35 billion pesos due to a surge in imports.

Deputy Commissioner of Customs Edward James Dai Buco told members of the Department of the Treasury (DOF) executive committee that the rice import duties they levied from January to May this year rose 14 percent from 7.32 billion pesos in the same period last year. as imports soared. by 37 percent.

As of the end of May this year, the country received 1.43 million tons of grain, which is 36.9% more than 1.04 million tons shipped in the same period in 2021.

The Dai Buko report said the bureau continued to collect tariffs on rice despite the continued fall in the average value of rice in the global market, which fell 16.3 percent year-on-year to 16,712 pesos a tonne at the end of the year. May from 19,977 pesos per ton.

For May alone, a customs official also said they also collected 1.7 billion pesos, up 3.2 percent from 1.65 billion pesos in the same month last year, as they saw double-digit growth in rice imports. Rice imports in May this year rose by 18.8% to 290,979 tons compared to 245,033 tons last year.

Under the Rice Tariff Law (RTL), all import duties levied on rice imports since March 5, 2019 go to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) and other agricultural modernization programs. The proceeds, in excess of the fund of 10 billion pesos, go to the financial aid fund for rice farmers.

President Duterte signed the Import Right Act on February 14, 2019. The law, which came into force on March 5, 2019, replaced quantitative restrictions on rice imports with tariffs.

The DOF has since said that the introduction of the RTL also paved the way for lower rice prices, noting that the staple is no longer a major contributor to inflation. However, some rice grower groups have lamented that the RTL has led to a drop in farmers’ incomes as selling prices have fallen to 7 pesos per kilogram in some provinces of the country.

International debt watchdog Fitch Ratings has also previously warned against the RTL amendment, which was done by President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. He has previously said he intends to take action to make the measure more convenient for local farmers and stop the country from being too dependent on rice imports. Fitch said that the amendments to the law could not only restrict rice imports and increase rice prices, but also “harm” the government’s tax revenues, and reiterated that “reversal of tax reforms that lead to a sustained increase in the budget deficit could also lead to downgrading.”

Di Buco also revealed that the Bank of Canada had already collected 5.8 billion pesos in duties on imported pork as of the end of May this year, out of a total of 353 million kilograms (kg). The collection was prompted by presidential decrees that lowered the tariff rates on pork imports and increased the allowable imports of this product. The directives, which came into force last April, were aimed at increasing the supply of pork and stabilizing retail prices in the domestic market following the outbreak of African swine fever, a disease that is detrimental to domestic pig production.

Of the total imports from January 1 to May 31, 125 million kg were processed. This figure is 32% higher compared to 94.93 million kg registered for the same period last year.

Estimated lost revenues due to lower tariff rates on pork have already reached 5.2 billion pesos from April 9 last year to the end of May this year, Di Buco said.

Executive Order (EO) 128, which reduced tariffs on pork imports to 5 percent within the minimum access volume and 15 percent outside the MAV for the first three months, went into effect from April 7 to May 14, 2021.

EO 134, which replaced EO 128 and came into effect last May 17, set tariffs on pork imports under the MAV at 10 percent for the first three months and 15 percent for the next nine months.

For imports outside the MAV, tariff rates were set at 20 percent for the first three months and 25 percent for the next nine months.