Milk producers in the Philippines are urging the government to increase liquid milk tariffs to 18 per cent from the current 3 per cent to help them grow the young dairy industry.
Philippine milk tariffs are among the lowest in the region, and dairy farmers have blamed it for their high imports. The country imports about US$500 million worth of dairy products annually, most of which is milk powder, according to the US agricultural attaché.
Danilo Fausto, president of DVF Dairy Farms, says that among all Asian countries, the Philippines is the least concerned in protecting its dairy industry.
"It's the lone country that has a single digit tariff on milk and milk products, unlike India which maintains a tariff range of between 35-60 per cent. Other neighboring countries also have double digit rates like Thailand's 20-40 per cent, Japan's 21-40 per cent, China's 20-25 per cent and Vietnam's 20 per cent."
Under the Philippine WTO schedule, the bound rate for liquid milk is 18 per cent.
The country's local milk production now stands at 12.34 million litres compared to 10.2 million litres five years ago, according to the National Dairy Authority, but this accounts for only 5 per cent of the country's total milk requirement.
In 2005, the Philippines imported about 46.6 million litres of ready to drink milk compared to only 22.8 million liters in 2000.