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Cabinet makes resolution over pork price hikes

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) yesterday said the Cabinet has made a resolution over the recent spike in pork prices, noting that the Council of Agriculture (COA) has requested the Taiwan Sugar Corporation (TSC, 台糖) to prepare 3,000 swine to release into the market anytime in March to balance the price.

Following the over 210,000 deaths of piglets suffering from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) between last October and this February, pork prices have hiked across the nation over the past few weeks.

In light of this, Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) yesterday afternoon held a cross-ministry meeting to discuss the issue.

Apart from releasing the 3,000 swine into the local market anytime to balance the supply and demand for pork, Sun said the Executive Yuan has also decided to import pork or even lower customs should the COA's plan fail to control pork prices.

Sun further quoted Mao as saying that by lowering customs, the government would decrease the tariff duties from the current 12.5 percent to 6.25 percent.

COA Deputy Minister Chen Wen-te (陳文德) explained that to import pork from other countries is a way to balance the swine supply from the TSC and local frozen meat suppliers.

Chen further noted that the COA continues to pay close attention to local fluctuations in pork prices.

Sun said the COA previously estimated that the decreasing number of piglets would cause price fluctuations in the nation only until the end of April, noting that however, after an initial investigation over the recent price hike, the Executive Yuan and the COA do not rule out the possibility of illegal price manipulation by the industry.

Chen said that in the past, the average transaction number is about 24,000 swine daily, and the number has recently decreased to 22,000 swine per day, noting that however, the total weight of swine for sale has increased, which suggests that pork providers have attempted to hoard the swine for a longer period.

The spokesman said that according to an initial investigation, several pork providers in Pingtung City (屏東) have raised their swine stocks, but whether or not they have illegally hoarded the stocks or attempted to monopolize them requires further investigation. The government would order prosecutors to join the investigation if necessary, Sun added.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) during the Cabinet's weekly meeting also demanded that the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) and Ministry of Justice (MOJ) pay close attention to commodity price inspection, stressing that punishments must be levied if there is evidence of illegal stock hoarding or monopolization.

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Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群), left, and Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Chen Wen-te (陳文德) speak to local reporters about the recent pork price issue at the Executive Yuan, yesterday afternoon. (CNA)

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