Exporters push for abolition of tariffs on PH exports to Japan

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 Octobers) – Exporters in Davao Region called on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to negotiate with Japan for the lifting of tariff rates imposed on Philippine products during his three-day state visit there on October 25 to 27.

Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) 11 executive director Edwin Sotto told Kapehan sa Dabaw Monday that the lifting of tariffs will help Filipino exporters, particularly the banana growers in Mindanao.

He cited that there are countries exporting to Japan tariff-free.

“We’re paying quite a good amount of tariff. Other countries exporting bananas to Japan are paying zero tariff already,” he said.

Sotto said the Japanese market has remained the country’s biggest buyer of Philippine cavendish bananas, recording a whopping US$277,272,187 worth of exports in 2015, followed by China with US$157,499,048, South Korea with US$80,986,180, Iran with US$53,144,575, and United Arab Emirates US$24,415,404.

He said Philexport 11 two of its members, Alexander Valoria and Vicente Lao, will join the business delegation of Duterte to Japan.

Valoria is the president of the Pilipino Banana Growers Exporters Association Inc. (PBGEA) and the chief executive officer of the Anflo Management and Investment Corp., the holding company of the Tagum Development Corp. in Davao del Norte, the largest banana plantation in the region.

Lao, owner of Maharlika Agro-Marine Ventures Corp.,is also president of the Mindanao Business Council.

Another business leader, Stephen Antig, executive director of PBGEA, in a text message said that he is not sure if he would join the country’s delegation to Japan due to prior commitments.

The country’s delegation was scheduled to leave for Japan on Tuesday.

Sotto is hopeful that the passage of a National Banana Comprehensive Act will address the concerns of the industry.

“The banana industry will remain challenged by biotic and abiotic production constraints, including social and market issues; research will more than ever be needed to address these challenges for sustainability; and a truly effective collective government-industry research and development collaborative effort is needed,” he said.

He said the industry players are thankful to Duterte for supporting their call for the passage of a law creating the National Banana Council that will oversee the overall development of the banana industry. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)