Philippine banana exporters seek zero tariffs for Japan trade
Website Manilatimes.net reported the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) had requested authorities review the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA) to secure its position in the Asian market.
The Philippines is the world's second-largest banana exporter, and shipments last year passed the US$1 billion mark.
The recent appeal came as more and more Japanese importers began striking deals with suppliers in Mozambique, Vietnam, Costa Rica, and lately in Indonesia, consequently reducing Japan’s dependence on the Philippines.
Under bilateral and economic partnership agreements, fresh bananas exported from those countries enjoy zero tariffs for their pooled quotas of 1,000 metric tons (MT) per year, according to the story.
However, Philippine bananas are subject to tariffs that reportedly range from 8.5% to as high as 18.5%.
In a letter sent to the offices of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA), PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig highlighted it was 'only logical' for Japanese importers to source fruit from countries with zero tariffs to minimize business costs.
In 2014, records from the Japanese Ministry of Finance showed the fruit was being imported from 12 sources - the Philippines, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Taiwan, Mexico, Colombia, Thailand, Costa Rica, China, Mozambique and the Dominican Republic.
It was also noted that shipments from Ecuador and Guatemala - two of the top exporters of fresh bananas in the world - increased sharply.
Based on the same official report, volumes of Philippine bananas imported by Japan in 2014 were the lowest since 2005 despite excellent production volumes, according to Manilatimes.net.
"The gradual decrease in volume is some sort of an embarrassment to the quality of Philippine exports," Antig was quoted as saying.
"We are, therefore, reiterating our request for a re-negotiation to possibly reduce, if not eliminate, the tariffs on Philippine bananas, a move that is clearly supported by Japanese fruit importers, particularly the Japan Fresh Produce Import and Safety Association (PlSA) since four years ago."