Low-priced flour products such as bread, noodles and pasta will be tabbed with soaring prices when the Yuletide season comes because of draconian cutbacks in Turkish flour imports.
Filipino-Chinese Bakers Association (FCBA) President Benito Lim pressed their concern on Thursday that importation of the cheap Turkish flour, mostly used in making affordable loaf breads and pan de sal, will be halted on September to December.
Because of this, Lim said that makers of loaf breads and pan de sal in which the imported flour goes into “will phase out” more or less “in a month.”
The Philippine Association of Flour Millers (Pafmil) filed an anti-dumping petition for the Turkish flour as it is imported cheaper compared to prices of domestic flour. The petition requested to impose a 20-percent increase in Turkish flour tariffs than the current 7 percent.
Lim said that rise of temporary duties on Turkish flour will pull up bread, noodle and pasta prices more than 50 percent of their production costs.
But according to Agriculture Assistant Secretary Salvador Salacup and Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, the importation of the Turkish flour will still continue.a
“Wala naman kaming prohibitions e [we don’t have any prohibitions], while the evaluation process will be conducted. We still have to finalize our evaluation [on whether to impose higher tariffs or not]and the decision will be forwarded to the tariff commission for further hearings,” Domingo said.
Turkish flour in the country will only last up to September or October, as the last 200-container to arrive in the country would only last up to 90 days.
Noodle manufacturers are starting to make noodles and pasta for Christmas as early as August to September. But since Turkish flour importation will be stopped, there will likely be higher prices for noodles and no bread for Christmas.
Domingo said that the Department of Trade and Industry does not have any authority to intervene in the issue.
“But we can’t intervene there in terms of expressing our views but in terms of regulatory function, it is already with the DA [Department of Agriculture],” he said.
“We are concerned on the rise of prices of bread. We have DA to look for the case and figure out petition has merit. Tariff commission will be the one to investigate. But for us, we want the bread prices not to go up,” he added.
When asked if local flour can replace Turkish flour, the secretary said that it is possible but different breads correspond to different kinds of flour used.
“Pero syempre maraming grades ang tinapay. Merong regular grade, may premium grade. Yung flour kasi, depende sa kung saan mo gagamitin eh. Because yung product na ginagawa nila, baka hindi pwede sa Pinoy flour [But of course there are a lot of bread grades. There is regular grade, premium grade. It depends on what you use. It is because their product does not use Pinoy flour],” Domingo said.
In 2012, Turkish flour exports to the country rose by 71 percent, while local flour industry only grew by 1 percent to 2 percent the same year.
Domingo said further that the DTI will give additional 15 days extension to hear out concerns of the millers starting Wednesday. They would then conduct a month-long evaluation on the concern and raise the result to the tariff commission for the next step on the request for duty increase.