Filipino-Chinese chamber backs move to lower rice import tariffs


Posted at Sep 13 2023 12:19 PM

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MANILA — The Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCII) on Tuesday said it backs Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s proposal to temporarily reduce the tariff rates on imported rice to between zero and 10%.

In a statement, the business group said the move will not only lower rice prices and temper increasing food inflation, but also help stabilize rice supply.

"This move will undeniably mitigate the pinch our countrymen are feeling due to the sharp increase in the price of rice, our staple food," the group said.

The businessmen noted the possible effects of the tariff reduction, such as the entry of cheaper imported rice and lowering of the prices of domestic palay.

"However, at this time of soaring prices and lack of supply of this staple, we need to consider foremost the needs of our consuming public, the over 110 million Filipinos, and support this short-term measure," they said.

Price cap deterring importers

In a separate interview on TeleRadyo Serbisyo, the group's president Dr, Cecilio Pedro also advocated lowering tariffs for now.

"Pag hindi natin binabaan yung tariff, baka mawalan tayo ng imports sa private sector in the coming months," he said.

(If we don't lower the tariff, we might lose imports from the private sector in the coming months.)

Pedro said the price ceiling seems to be deterring importers from buying rice.
"Tinitingnan nila yung cost, pag yung cost mataas, hindi sila bibili ng palay para i-supply sa market at a lower price," he explained. 

(They are looking at the cost--if it is high, they won't buy palay to supply it at a lower price.)

"The only way to encourage more imports is for tariff to come down so that it will be profitable for importers to sell at the price ceiling," he added.

Pedro also stressed that the price ceiling on rice must only be temporary.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order No. 39, setting the price ceiling for regular milled rice at P41 per kilo and well-milled rice at P45 per kilo to rein in the soaring cost of the staple grain.

"Price ceiling is only temporary. Siguro 1-2 weeks. Pag natapos na ang harvest kailangan tanggalin na natin yung price ceiling para magkaroon ng enough supply," he noted.

(It think it should only be good for 1 to 2 weeks. After the harvest, it must be removed to boost supply.)