MANILA, Feb 9 (Reuters) - The Philippines plans to increase pork imports this year to roughly 400,000 tonnes, more than double the initial proposal, as it seeks to cover a domestic shortfall that has pushed market prices higher, its farm minister said on Tuesday.
A government advisory panel has endorsed the import volume for approval, which is much higher than the 162,000 tonnes planned earlier, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a briefing.
The Southeast Asian country, among the world’s biggest pork importers, is under increasing pressure to boost supply of the meat, a mainstay in the Filipino diet, after African swine fever outbreaks reduced hog inventories.
Philippine inflation hit a two-year high in January, partly due to higher pork prices.
Creeping inflation suggests that the room to maintain an accommodative monetary policy to support recovery of the country’s pandemic-hit economy might be narrowing, some economists have said.
“We have a potential deficit of almost 400,000 metric tonnes, so we need supply augmentation,” Dar said.
The plan is still subject to a review by a Cabinet panel before it is recommended for final approval by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The public shock over spikes in meat prices has also prompted the government to allot billions of pesos for hog repopulation and impose a two-month price cap for both pork and chicken in the capital region starting this week. (Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty)
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