Fishers hit unlimited imports of rice and fish through QR lifting, zero tariff
Manila, Philippines – “Lifting the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice importation and imposing a zero tariff on imported fish will be the last nail in the coffin for Filipino food producers such as farmers and fisherfolk,” according to the activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) reacting to the plan of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and economic managers during their meeting last July 31.
Arroyo along with economic bloc in the Duterte government said the proposed policy on importation is to “address the inflation”. But for the fisherfolk group, the lifting of QR and zero tariff on rice and fish will bring economic disaster to local food producers.
“We are already importing an average of 500, 000 metric tons of fish every year. To set the tariff on imported fish down to zero will completely kill the livelihood of Filipino fisherfolk because domestic market will primarily depend on marine and aquatic products coming from the foreign market. Everything on our table from rice to entrée will be imported,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group claims shortage can never be the reason on why the country should rely on import because in the first place, according to them, the country exports tons after tons of fish products every year. They said from 1994 up to the present, the Philippines’ marine export rose to 120%, or a total of 333, 465 metric tons in 2013 alone. PAMALAKAYA said the exportation influx is despite the 15% loss of fish consumption in the country yearly.
“The unlimited importation of rice and fish will render the domestic market and local prices unstable. But moreover, it will leave small farmers and fishers at the losing end because while the government focuses on imports, local production remain backward as ever due to agriculture and economic policies dictated by foreign markets,”
“Flooding our local market with imported agricultural products will never bring food sustainability but to develop our agriculture through livelihood subsidy and our country to separate from unfair global economic and trade deals that promote liberalization such as World Trade Organization,” ended Hicap. ###