DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 Aug) – Banana exports from the Philippines to Japan reached 679,967 metric tons from January to May 2018, growing 7% from 634,191 MT recorded during the same period last year.
Stephen Antig, executive director of the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), said in an email on Tuesday that the Philippines continues to dominate in Japan for Cavendish bananas with a market share of 80%.
But he expressed concern that this might reduce following the entry of new banana players that are starting to eat into the Philippines’ market share as the Japanese government has eased the tariff rates against their exportable bananas.
Antig welcomed the ongoing review of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership (PJEPA) under which the Filipino trade negotiators claimed they have been pressing their Japanese counterparts to work on the elimination of the tariff.
“Very good. It is about time that banana be given its importance considering the contribution of the industry to the economy,” he added.
The executive expressed fear that tariff issues on banana and other tropical fruits from the Philippines will be again “relegated to the bottom rung of the agenda and then have it rescheduled to another date.”
Banana exporters complained that Japan levies hefty tariff rates – 8% during summer and a maximum of 18% during winter. On the other hand, Colombia, Vietnam, and countries in Central America will have zero tariff over the next three years.
Mindanao Banana Farmers & Exporters Association, Inc. (MBFEAI) chairperson Evelyn I. Magno called on the government to work on lifting of tariff on bananas as the competition with other banana-producing countries is getting tighter.
She said Filipino farmers will not only be confronted by pests and diseases but also by market competition in Japan, the Philippines’ most stable export market for Cavendish bananas.
“If we cannot remove the tariff, we will die. We will be the least preferred. If we don’t push hardly on the removal of tariff, diseases would not only be our problem. We’ve long been lobbying for it but until now, it’s not being addressed, there is still no agreement,” Magno lamented.
According to a report of the Philippine Statistics Authority published on July 10, 2018, fresh bananas were the fifth top export of the country valued at $146.41 million with a 2.5-percent share to the total export receipts in May 2018. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)