PH seeks lifting of Japanese tariffs on PH fruit exports
The Philippines will ask Japan to lift tariffs on its fruit exports, as part of the discussion between President Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Mr. Duterte is in Japan for a three-day working visit that will conclude on Oct. 31.
According to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, the push for zero tariffs on Philippine fruit exports will be discussed by the two heads of state.
Piñol said on his Facebook page that he had been asked by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to provide documents on previous negotiations with the Japanese government on the proposed zero tariffs on Philippine fruits including pineapples, mangoes and Cavendish bananas.
While the appeal has long been pending, Piñol said local fruit growers hoped that negotiations would be hastened given the official involvement of the President and the latter’s friendship with Prime Minister Abe.
Japanese importers, meanwhile, have struck deals with suppliers in Latin American countries that enjoy zero tariffs in Japan, consequently eating into the Philippines’ market share.
Trading companies have started to shift to Ecuadorian bananas due to economic considerations despite surveys that Japanese consumers prefer Philippine bananas, Piñol said.
Under bilateral and economic partnership agreements, fresh bananas exported from countries like Costa Rica and Ecuador enjoy zero tariffs for their pooled quota of 1,000 tons per year.
Philippine bananas, on the other hand, are slapped a tariff of 2.5 percent during the off-season for Japanese fruits and a high of 18 percent during the country’s fruit harvesting season.
Other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Indonesia also enjoy zero tariffs on their banana produce.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that Japan accounted for more than 30 percent of the Philippines’ total annual banana exports in 2016, or a total of $231.3 million.
Last year, an agriculture deal worth P2.3 billion was struck between local banana growers and a Japanese firm, involving a total of 20 million boxes of Cavendish bananas to be exported to Japan.
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