Source: National Pork Producers Council
The Philippines this week expressed interest in pursuing a bilateral free trade agreement with the United States. The country’s trade and industry secretary, Ramon Lopez, says the government is open to negotiating an FTA with its third largest trading partner.
NPPC would strongly support a trade deal with the Pacific island nation, a top 10 market for U.S. pork. (The U.S. pork industry last year shipped nearly $79 million of pork to the Philippines.) The Philippines already enjoys preferential treatment for most of its exports to the United States under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, a trade program for developing countries.
In a related matter, the Philippines will maintain its existing low tariffs on pork offal and mechanically deboned meat even after the expiration of a World Trade Organization-sanctioned restriction on rice imports. The government’s Committee on Tariff and Related Matters abandoned plans to extend the rice import quota, which is set to expire June. 30. In exchange for the quotas, the WTO required the Philippines to lower tariffs on mechanically deboned meat to 5% from 40% and on offal to a range of 5 to 10% from 40%. While the decision to keep tariffs low is welcomed news for U.S. pork producers, the Philippines has a number of non-tariff barriers that restrict U.S. pork exports.
NPPC Vice President and Counsel Nick Giordano was recently in Manila discussing trade issues with industry and government officials. Food prices in the Philippines are high relative to many other southeast Asian nations. NPPC believes the new administration in the Philippines is serious about lowering consumer food prices, which bodes well for removing unnecessary impediments to trade.