Philippines extends tariff cuts on imported rice, other food items to fight inflation

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved the extension of reduced tariffs on rice and other food items until the end-2024 to keep prices stable amid a threat of dry weather in the coming months, his office said on Tuesday.

The modified rates first approved in 2021 had already been extended this year due to high inflation, and Marcos said another extension was needed until the end of next year.

“The present economic condition warrants the continued application of the reduced tariff rates on rice, corn, and (pork)…to maintain affordable prices for the purpose of ensuring food security,” Marcos was quoted as saying in a statement.

Inflation was at 4.1% in November, easing for a second straight month, but has averaged 6.2% in the first 11 months of 2023, well outside the Philippine central bank’s 2%-4% target for the year.

The extension of the modified tariffs, Marcos said, is aimed at ensuring affordable prices of rice, corn and meat products with the looming effects of the El Nino dry weather phenomenon early next year and the continued threat of African Swine Fever.

The tariff rate for rice will remain at 35%, while import levies on corn will stay at 5%-15% and 15%-25% for pork products, according to the new executive order extending the modified tariff rates.

(Reporting by Mikhail Flores; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)