Fruit tariff reduction only tentative, minister says

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Oct 04, 2012 - Page 4

Tariffs on apples, nectarines and kiwis would not be cut by half if that were to have a negative impact on sales of domestic fruit, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) said yesterday.

On Monday, the convener of the Executive Yuan’s price stabilization task force, Vice Premier Jiang Yi-hua (江宜樺), said that because of torrential rain and typhoons Saola and Tembin, which seriously damaged the production of fruit this summer, prices of domestic fruit have soared, leading to a drop in sales.

He also announced that the Executive Yuan had decided to cut tariffs on three kinds of imported fruit by half for at least two months, and that “the policy is meant to stabilize domestic fruit prices and relieve consumers’ economic burdens, while also taking into account domestic fruit farmers’ rights and interests.”

The tariff on the imported fruits will be cut from 20 percent to 10 percent, starting on Saturday.

At the Legislative Yuan’s Economic Committee yesterday, Chen said: “The three fruits chosen are not widely produced in Taiwan, so the import of these fruits should not cause a big impact on domestic fruit growers, especially in this season.”

Starting late this month, citrus fruit will be produced in Taiwan, followed by fruits such as papaya, pineapple and sugar-apple, which are quite different from the three kinds of imported fruit for which tariffs will be reduced, Chen said.

“I think most people choose fruit that they like, and are hardly likely to substitute them with other fruit because of the price,” Chen said.

Several legislators said they were worried that importers and dealers would benefit from the cut in tariffs, while consumers would not see cheaper prices.

Responding to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) about how the council could guarantee cheaper fruit prices for consumers, Chen said there were no limits on imports, but the council would work with the Consumer Protection Commission to monitor wholesale fruit prices.

He said the council expected the reduced tariff would lead retail prices of imported apples to drop by about NT$3 a kilogram, nectarines to drop by NT$12 a kilogram and kiwis by NT$6 a kilogram.