Sugar producers, food processors unite vs import lib

Published by rudy Date posted on October 18, 2019

By: Karl R. Ocampo , Philippine Daily Inquirer 18 Oct 2019

In an unprecedented move, the country’s sugar producers, millers, traders and major users, mainly food processors, have united against the government’s plan to liberalize the sugar industry.

In a statement on Thursday, the Tatak Kalamay group said it welcomed the decision of food processors and exporters not to push through with their lobbying for deregulation. They instead opted to ask the government for additional import allocation.

“We welcome the move of the food processors and exporters to stop their lobbying for sugar import liberalization and we look forward to working with them and addressing their needs,” the group said.

“It is indeed a big relief for us in the sugar industry if they stay true to their word in supporting our call to scrap the proposed liberalization of sugar importation,” it added.

The joint statement released by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food and the Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization (Philfoodex) on Monday stated that opening up the sugar industry to unimpeded importation was not necessary if the government wanted to improve the competitiveness of the processing industry.

“We’re not requesting for liberalization. We’re requesting for import allocation (to help stabilize the supply for) food processors, Philfoodex president Roberto Amores said.

This was a sudden turnaround from the groups’ position. What led the industry to ease its position on the matter might be the strong lobby staged by the producers and millers, who were strongly backed by lawmakers in the Senate, against liberalization.

Following additional support from other stakeholders, the Tatak Kalamay group—an umbrella organization of the biggest sugar groups in the country—reiterated its call on the Department of Agriculture and the Sugar Regulatory Administration to “step up to the plate and support the sugar industry,” noting the silence of both agencies on the issue.

“Let us stand united and save the Philippine agriculture,” the group said.

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