Farmers Fed says reduced tariffs on rice imports detrimental to Filipinos

Jun. 01, 2022 file photo

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — A farmers’ group has criticized the decision of the Duterte government to cut down the tariffs on rice imports.

The Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) has condemned what it perceived as the “underhanded move of the country’s economic managers to unnecessarily maintain reduced tariffs on rice imports”, as it noted that such decision will be detrimental to local rice producers, Filipino consumers, and the country in general.

The federation explained that on May 15, 2022, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 135 which reduces tariffs on rice imports from non-ASEAN countries, from 50 percent to 35 percent for a period of one year. The reason was to reduce the country’s dependence on Vietnam and other ASEAN rice exporters.

The FFF said that per the data it presented during the Tariff Commission last March 17, rice imports from non-ASEAN countries actually decreased to less than two percent of total imports despite the tariff reduction in 2021.

“Although shipment from Pakistan increased in early 2022, total non-ASEAN imports are expected to account for only half a percent of the country’s total rice consumption this year,” FFF said in a statement released on Monday, May 30.

The group added that the reduced tariffs did not result in lower prices for rice, implying that the savings in customs duties were simply pocketed by importers. “The government lost much needed tariff revenues, estimated at around P126 million in 2021,” it noted.

FFF said the tariff reduction will also apply to high-end rice varieties such as Indian Basmati, Japanese sticky rice, Thai Jasmine, US Calrose, and European rice products for sale to wealthy consumers and establishments that can afford to pay higher tariffs.

Under current laws, the power of the President to adjust tariff rates is a delegated authority from Congress and can be exercised only when Congress is not in session, presumably to enable it to respond promptly to emergency situations.

“This was no urgent need to issue the Executive Order. Rice prices and inventories have been stable. Imports have continued to come in and even increased during the first quarter of the year. Clearly, President Duterte, at the instance of his economic managers, simply wanted to preempt Congress before it resumed its sessions,” said Raul Montemayor, FFF national manager.

The FFF urged President-elect Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. to immediately rescind the Executive Order upon his assumption into office and undertake a review of the tariff adjustments implemented by the Duterte administration on rice, corn, pork and other agricultural commodities. (

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