PH asks S. Korea to lower tariff on bananas
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) renewed its bid to get tariffs imposed by South Korea on Philippine bananas lowered, amid concerns of increased competition in the export market.
The government is leaning toward options that could help achieve this end, including a preferential trade arrangement (PTA) with South Korea.
This is according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, who raised the issue with South Korea’s Minister for Trade Kim Hyun-chong on Friday.
“We renewed our request to lower tariffs on our banana exports for greater market access in South Korea,” he said in a mobile message to reporters.
Bananas from the Philippines are slapped with a 30-percent tariff in South Korea.
“We are still the largest supplier of bananas to South Korea, accounting for over 85 percent of its banana imports. But other countries [are] trying to increase their shares,” he said.
In July, the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) warned that imports from Central American countries, which enjoyed zero tariff, would eventually push the Philippines “out of the picture by 2022.”
PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig said in a previous statement that the Philippines needed to have the same zero-tariff treatment in that market, which could be done through a bilateral agreement.
Lopez did not say how low they wanted this tariff to be. However, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol previously said the proposal was to initially lower the rate to 10 percent.
Lopez said they were “considering options on a better process moving forward.” He said this could either be through a PTA or under the Asean-Korea Free Trade Area. —ROY C. CANIVEL
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