The Philippines, already a big importer of U.S. pork, is lowering its tariffs to allow for more foreign supplies as the country continues to battle African swine fever, according to an announcement made Wednesday by the National Pork Producers Council.

NPPC has been lobbying Philippine and U.S. trade officials to make it easier for U.S. producers to supply the growing demand in the country since the first ASF outbreaks there in 2019.

“Since 2019, the Philippines has been battling African swine fever and as a result domestic production has declined, supplies have tightened, and pork prices have spiked,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “While we are saddened by the spread of ASF in the Philippines, we appreciate the opportunity to send more high-quality U.S. pork to ease the shortage and the spike in prices.”

The Philippines maintains lower tariffs for imports when the total is under the country’s “minimum access volume” level, or MAV. It’s essentially a tariff rate quota, and the tariff is higher when shipments rise above the quota, which was recently increased to 404,210 metric tons.

Beginning Wednesday, the Philippines is sharply lowering the in-quota tariff from 30% down to 5% over the next three months, and then 10% afterwards, according to NPPC. The above-quota tariff rate is lowered from 40% to 15% over the next three months and then settles at 20% thereafter.

A little over a week ago, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte increased the TRQ for pork imports by 350,000 tons for 2021 “to immediately augment the supply of pork, stabilize increasing prices, and address the pressing issues on food security.”

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NPPC Assistant Vice President for International Affairs Maria Zieba tells Agri-Pulse that the U.S. is in a good position to take advantage of the increased quota and lower tariff rates.

The U.S. exported 49,660 tons of pork worth $121 million to the Philippines in 2020, according to NPPC.

“The expanded market access is expected to generate significantly more U.S. pork exports to the country,” the group said Wednesday. “With a population of 109 million and pork as the preferred protein of choice, pork consumption will continue to increase as the economy grows.”

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