Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an administrative order that authorizes the removal of non-tariff barriers (NTB) and streamlining administrative procedures on the importation of agricultural products, his spokesman said on Tuesday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the administrative order, which was signed on Sept. 21, is aimed to cushion the impact of the rising prices of commodities in the country by ensuring an unhampered supply of these agricultural products.
The non-tariff barriers and certain administrative constraints, procedures and fees unduly add to the costs of importation and limit supply, pushing up the prices of agricultural commodities, the administrative order said.
"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 administrative order read.
The administrative order simplifies the procedures and requirements in the accreditation of importers and minimizes the processing of the
time of application for importation.
In addition, it exempts traders that are already accredited from registration requirements.
The administrative order also facilitates importation of certain agricultural products beyond their authorized Minimum Access Volume (MAV) and where applicable reduce or remove fees; liberalizes issuance of permits and accreditation of rice importers to break monopoly; and temporarily allows direct importation of sugar-using industries to lower their input cost.
Under this administrative order, the National Food Authority (NFA) was authorized to approve additional rice importation to the private sector.
The administrative order also mandates the Department of Agriculture (DA) to issue the certificate of necessity to allow importation of adequate volumes of fish and the Bureau of Customs must also prioritize unloading and release of agricultural products imported under the order.
According to the administrative order, Duterte has assigned the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and DA to take concrete steps to improve logistics, transport, distribution and storage of agricultural products to reduce input costs.
Headline inflation rose in August to 6.4 percent year-on-year, the highest level observed since April 2009.
August inflation went up as most food items as well as alcoholic beverages and tobacco recorded price increases.
Recent typhoons also affected the supply of fruits and vegetables while sugar prices rose as continuous rains dampened domestic output. At the same time, higher prices of meat, fish, and seafood also pushed up inflation in August.