Farm goods, e-motorcycles, hybrids subject to tariff review

REUTERS

THE GOVERNMENT is reviewing the tariff regime for farm commodities, and studying whether to extend an offering of incentives to importers of electric motorcycles and hybrid vehicles, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Thursday.

NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said at a briefing that the reviews have hurdled the technical and committee levels, and will be raised before the NEDA Board, chaired by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., next month.

If approved by the board, changes in the tariff regime will be implemented beginning next year until 2028, according to NEDA.

“The overall intention of that review is to further structure the tariff regime so that we can have a more efficient and competitive economy,” Mr. Balisacan said. 

Tariff should be configured to ensure that there are no cases where “some industries have low tariffs for their outputs, but face high tariffs for the inputs that they use for their production.”

Household consumption grew 4.6% in the first quarter slowing from 5.3% in the previous quarter and 6.4% a year earlier, the weakest reading for household spending since the 4.8% contraction in the first quarter of 2021.

Such spending accounted for 3.5 percentage points of overall growth in spending, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Mr. Balisacan said that many parts of the economy are affected by a “highly distorted tariff structure.”

Reviewing the government’s tariff regime would also help “stabilize the policy environment” for all commodities, he added.

“It is a concern for investors what the applicable tariff is, so if they invest, will they see a low tariff or high tariff?”

He said there was no consensus on whether a separate executive order (EO) is needed for tariff revisions for some electric vehicle types or for hybrids.

NEDA has been studying the extension of EO No. 12 to grant zero tariffs to e-motorcycles and hybrid vehicles. The EO was signed last year to cut carbon emissions and encourage the transition to greener forms of transport.

The decision to limit the tariff benefits to electric four-wheelers is backed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which cited the need to encourage the rapid rollout of charging infrastructure. The DTI is also pursuing a fleet-focused strategy for electric four-wheelers to achieve critical mass as quickly as possible. 

Headline inflation accelerated to 3.8% in April due to rising food and transport costs, the PSA said on Tuesday.

“We are trying to streamline and to restructure so that we can have much more broad-based sources of growth so that employment generation and growth can happen,” Mr. Balisacan said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz