MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an administrative order removing non-tariff barriers and streamlining administrative procedures on the importation of basic agricultural commodities.
Under Administrative Order No. 13 which he signed on September 21, Duterte emphasized the “urgent need” to control price spikes of basic agricultural products particularly rice, chicken, pork and fish.
“There is an urgent need to tame price spikes of basic agricultural commodities by adopting measures that remove non-tariff barriers and streamline administrative procedures to allow importation that will address shortfall on supply and ensure stable prices of agricultural products in the domestic market,” the AO stated.
The non-tariff barriers, the AO explains, “unduly add to the costs of importation and limit supply, which in turn, push up the prices of agriculture commodities to the detriment of Filipinos consumers, specially the poor”.
Duterte has directed the National Food Authority (NFA), Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), and Department of Agriculture (DA) to ensure implementation of AO13 “subject to conditions imposed by applicable laws and consistent with their respective legal mandates.
In coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the concerned government agencies have been instructed to minimize the processing time of applications for importation.
The President has also directed the agencies to exempt traders that are already accredited from registration requirements and to liberalize issuance of permits.
The NFA and DA have been instructed to facilitate importation of certain agricultural products particularly rice beyond their authorized Minimum Access Volume (MAV) commitment.
Duterte has also directed the DA “to allow importation of adequate volumes of fish” to augment the 17,000 metric tons of fish imports already being distributed in the market”.
To ensure fast delivery of imported agricultural products, Duterte has ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to prioritize the unloading and release of agricultural products.
With the assistance from private sector, the DTI, NFA, Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation shall monitor importation and distribution of agricultural commodities and prevent price manipulation.
In line with Duterte’s order, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has issued Memorandum Order (MO) No. 26 directing the DTI and DA to adopt measures to reduce the gap between farmgate and retail prices of agricultural products.
Medialdea also issued separate MO No. 27 directing the DA, Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to come up with measures that would ensure efficient and seamless delivery of imported agriculture and fishery products from the ports to the markets.
The NFA, meanwhile, has also been instructed to “immediately” release to the markets approximately 230,000 metric tons of rice in its warehouses across the country.
“The NFA shall likewise immediately release the 100,000 metric tons of rice previously contracted to be delivered before the end of September,” Medialdea said in a separate memo.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Medialdea will check on monthly basis if the agencies have been implementing Duterte’s administrative order.
He said the issuance of AO13 was another proof that the Duterte administration is seriously addressing the high inflation by reducing red tape on importation of agricultural products.
“Ito na po yun katuparan dun sa sinabi ng economic team na they will issue AOs para mapabilis ang pagpasok ng mga inaangkat na pagkain at para masigurado yun mas maagang delivery ng mga inangkat na pagkain sa market (This is the fulfillment of what the economic teams said, that they will issue AOs to fastrack the entry and delivery of imported food to the market),” Roque said in a Palace press briefing on Tuesday. (PNA)