THE British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) said it supports the passage of the proposed Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act and the extension of Executive Order (EO) No. 10’s validity until 2028.
At a briefing on Thursday, BCCP Executive Director Chris Nelson presented the foreign chamber’s wish list for the Philippines next year.
EO 10, which reduced the Most Favored Nation tariff rates on pork, corn, rice, and coal as an anti-inflation measure, was due to expire at the end of the year. The Palace on Thursday announced the extension of the EO’s validity for a further year beyond Dec. 31.
“Obviously, we would have preferred it to be extended for the period of his (President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.) presidency because it is an EO. But realistically, we understand that it’s going to be extended for (just) one year,” Mr. Nelson said.
“What we have tried to emphasize is that we as a chamber and the companies we bring in, try to make this a long-term relationship … so I think we would like it for a longer period. But… we understand that it may only be for another year,” he said.
The President had signed the EO on Dec. 10.
Under the EO, tariff rates for imports of pork were kept at 15% for shipments within the minimum access volume (MAV) quota and 25% for those exceeding the quota.
Meanwhile, the corresponding rates for corn remained at 5% for shipments within the MAV quota and 15% for those exceeding the quota. The rice tariff was set at a uniform 35% for all grain regardless of source. The previous 35% rate had applied originally to Southeast Asian rice. The EO retained the zero rate on imports of coal.
Mr. Nelson said that the importance of agriculture has been a key focus worldwide.
“One of the major impacts of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is on grain. Ukraine is one of the largest producers of grain in Europe. (The war) obviously had an impact and caused distortions in supply,” he said.
“I raise this point as if you look at agriculture, costs have a key impact on the consumer sector… I think what we can do is to supply pork, which will help in terms of the supply side, and then the security and inflation are going to be very important factors,” he added.
He said that it is the reason behind BCCP support for the proposed Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.
“Significant progress has been made. The House has passed its version, and the Senate has just passed (its measure) on third reading. As you will know, under your system, those two bills must be reconciled in bicameral session,” Mr. Nelson said.
He said that the chamber has consistently supported the passage of the measure to help with inflation, food security, food supply, the resiliency of Philippine agriculture, and the promotion of fair trade practices. — Justine Irish D. Tabile