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June 27, 2017

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Fruit prices to drop on lower tariff: COA head

The China Post news staff--Local retail prices for three imported fruits, namely apples, kiwis and nectarines, should be cut by NT$3-12 per kilogram as their import tariff rates have been halved to 10 percent starting Oct. 1, a top agricultural official said yesterday.

Chen Bao-ji, minister of the Council of Agriculture (COA), issued the reduction call at an economic committee session of the Legislative Yuan.

With the import tariff on the said three fruits halved to 10 percent for a period of two and a half months staring Oct. 1, Chen said, the national coffers will see import tariff losses of NT$115 million.

Chen said after the tariff reduction, the import prices for the three fruits will decline significantly, and retail prices should drop accordingly. He added that the COA will announce a set of reasonable retail prices for the three fruits for reference by retailers and consumers.

The COA head continued that based on a rough calculation, the retail prices for imported apples can be cut by NT$3 per kilogram, compared a cut of NT$6 and NT$12 per kilogram for imported kiwis and nectarines, respectively.

He said all local fruit importers and operators of hypermarkets have agreed to cut their sales prices for the three imported fruits in-line with the tariff reduction, and therefore the government will take actions if retail prices are not reduced.

Chen said that the COA will join forces with the Consumer Protection Commission and the Fair Trade Commission to inspect all the fruit wholesale and retail markets to see if retail prices for the three imported fruits have been slashed or not, and will take appropriate actions if necessary.

Taiwan now imports around 10,000 metric tons of apples per month, mainly from the U.S., Chile, New Zealand and Japan, with importers maintaining a two-month inventory. Kiwis are mainly imported from New Zealand and nectarines from the U.S. and Chile.

At the economic committee session, opposition lawmakers Lin Dai-hua, Hsu Chung-hsin and Huang We-jer said if retrial prices of the three imported fruits fail to decline in-line with the tariff reduction, local consumers won't benefit from the tariff cut and fruit farmers will also suffer.

Meanwhile, lawmakers of the finance committee of the Legislative Yuan yesterday passed a motion to scrap the import tariff reduction on apples, kiwis and nectarines earlier than scheduled if the average retail prices in October fail to fall reasonably from September levels.

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