DA urged to recall order on 60-day validity of SPSIC on meat imports

Meat importers and traders are urging the Department of Agriculture (DA) to reinstate the 90-day validity of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) for meat products, arguing that the global shipping situation is yet better and has even worsened today.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, the Meat Importers and Traders Association (Mita) called the revocation of the 90-day validity of SPSIC for imported meat products as “premature” and “ill-advised.”

Furthermore, the group pointed out that reverting the SPSIC validity to 60 days may “compromise the government’s efforts to control inflation and food security” since it provides insufficient elbow room for the arrival of shipments amid persisting logistical problems.

Mita explained that despite the Covid-19 situation improving in certain countries globally, various supply chain and logistics challenges continue to persist and are “not expected to be resolved anytime soon.”

The group revealed that various shipping lines have stopped reefer services to the Philippines, while others “have significantly cut back their services,” leaving importers scrambling for lines that still service to the Philippines.

“For those that still accept reefer cargo for the Philippines, they will either not accept cargo for Cebu, and/or frequently cancel sailings or skip ports at the last moment [called blank sailings],” Mita said in its letter dated May 24, a copy of which was obtained by the BusinessMirror.

Mita also disclosed that a lot of ports of origins remain congested, which contributes to additional sailing time. For example, the group noted, vessels at the port of Long Beach in California are taking two weeks to be unloaded, which is already equivalent to one whole trip to Asia from the US.

“Multiply that by the length of time the ports are congested, multiplied again by the number of vessels waiting at sea which at present is around 30 vessels in the West Coast [but could be up to 60 vessel]…one can more  readily appreciate the capacity that has been lost,” the group said.

“Obviously if a vessel cannot unload, then it cant receive cargo either which means our suppliers now take much longer to ship our orders. The situation in the US East Coast is not that much better with up to 40 vessels currently waiting offshore between the three major ports,” it added.

Aside from port congestion, the group also cited inland transport issues in countries exporting meat products to the Philippines like the US, which is suffering from shortage of truck drivers, and the UK, which is experiencing shortage of plant labor due to Brexit.

The group added that China’s zero tolerance policy on Covid-19 is also putting further pressure on the global shipping situation as vessels and reefer containers remain stuck at various ports in the Asian country. Worse, the group pointed out, is that there is “no sign that China will ease up on its zero tolerance policy that is causing ripple effects throughout the world.”

“For all these reasons, it now takes much longer to organize and export a container of meat, that 60 days will often be insufficient and force the importer to apply for a new permit,” it said.

“We therefore urge you to reconsider and maintain the 90 day validity of the SPS until we see a significant improvement in the lead time needed to ship our orders,” it added.
     The BusinessMirror earlier reported that the DA reverted the validity of SPSICs for imported meat products to 60 days, arguing that problems hounding the global supply chain have already eased.

Dar issued Administrative Order (AO) 11 that revoked his earlier order of extending the 90-day validity of SPSIC for imported meat.

Dar cited the better global Covid-19 situation as the reason behind the revocation of his earlier orders that extended SPSIC validity for imported meat.

He earlier issued AO 2, Series of 2022 that maintained the 90-day SPSIC validity until revocation “due to the chain issues and logistical difficulties brought about by the global Covid pandemic.” (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/02/01/da-extends-anew-validityof-sps-ics-of-meat-imports/)

“The current global Covid situation has subsided in many parts of the world, resulting in an easing of the supply chain and logistical restrictions,” Dar argued in AO 11 dated May 23.

“DA AO No. 2 Series of 22…is hereby revoked; thus, returning the SPS validity of imported meat back to 60 days,” he added.