Zero Import Tariff to Be Extended; Farm Equipment, Inputs

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Byline: BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT

The Cabinet-level Tariff Related Matters (TRM) committee has passed a resolution approving for an extension in the granting of zero tariff on the imports of farm equipment and farm-related inputs as provided for under the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA).

Trade and Industry Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II, who is chair of the TRM, said the extension of the import privilege is part of the government's effort to provide more assistance to the agricultural sector in light of the onset of trade liberalization in the farm sector in the World Trade Organization amid heavy farm subsidies in the European Union countries and other developed countries including the United States.

It was also a way of proving that the five-year old law under Republic Act 8435 has been effective in spurring agricultural development. The import privilege under AFMA expired in February this year.

There are also pending bills in Congress seeking for the expansion of the specific list of product coverage for zero duty and for the implementation of valuae added tax exemption under the AFMA law.

The pending bill in Congress calls for a five-year extension of the import privilege.

While the Department of Finance was amenable to the AFMA extension, it also wanted for a stringent rules governing the import privilege noting that the privilege only benefitted big corporations and not really the small farmers. …