Duterte Backs Rise in Pork Imports as Supply Crunch Fans Prices

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to increase the cap on pork imports purchased under lower tariffs to address a supply crunch that has helped stoke inflation to a two-year high.

The president recommended the increase in the minimum access volume by 350,000 metric tons on top of the 54,210 metric tons agreed under terms of the World Trade Organization, his spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement late Friday. Temporary adjustments can be made to the WTO agreement by Congress or through a presidential executive order.

Duterte Backs Rise in Pork Imports as Supply Crunch Fans Prices

“This is to immediately augment the supply of pork, stabilize increasing prices and address the pressing issues on food security,” Roque said. As many as 1.9 million hogs, about 15% of the inventory, were lost to African swine fever in 2020, the agriculture department said this month.

Consumer prices rose 4.7% from a year earlier in February, the fastest pace since December 2018, driven by higher food costs, particularly meat. The central bank, which kept its key rate unchanged at 2% on Thursday, said that it now expects inflation to exceed its 2%-4% target this year.

The Agriculture Department had asked Duterte to issue an executive order to increase imports of pork. Congress is in recess from March 27 to May 26.

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