The local agriculture industry is optimistic that the government will properly enforce the price-based special safeguard duty (SSG) on farm products, including chicken, in a bid to protect domestic production.

In a statement, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) welcomed the recent issuance of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) stating that all agricultural products listed in 2018 will still be levied with the price-based SSG.

This also includes their corresponding harmonized tariff nomenclature description and trigger prices for Southeast Asia.

PRRM president Edicio dela Torre said that for the past years, the poultry industry has been petitioning for the return of imposition of price-based SSG duty on whole chicken imports, which was temporarily suspended six years ago.

'Strengthening and increasing safeguard duties imposed on chicken give immediate temporary relief to the local broiler sector, without adversely affecting chicken retail price,' dela Torre said.

It should be noted that SSG measures provide immediate and temporary protection from import surge or cheap importation of SSG-eligible products, regardless of country of origin.

In the case of price-based SSG duty, it can be imposed once the actual cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value of the product is below the trigger price.

To update the trigger price of safeguard duties, there has to be a mandatory review of implementation and trigger price every six months.

There is also a need for mandatory review of implementation and trigger price when excess supply is expected to go above 60 days in inventory, based on the Department of Agriculture (DA) forecasts, PRRM said.

Dela Torre said that the DA and the whole government have been quite responsive to the persistent requests for actions to help and assist the poultry industry.

The latest circular, however, does not include imported mechanically deboned meat (MDM) but dela Torre said the food processing sector does not directly compete with the local market as MDM products are not widely produced locally.

Dela Torre noted that managing the importation and implementing a temporary relief by only allowing chicken products used for further processing or value adding that do not directly compete with local produce will go a long way in strengthening local broiler production without disrupting other food sectors.

Moving forward, PRRM said the government must focus on importing agricultural products for food processing usage only.

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