The Philippines has reiterated its request for Japan to cut tariffs on Philippine bananas to zero.
During the bilateral meeting of the Philippines and Japan in Brunei on October 16, Agriculture Secretary William Dar sought Japan’s Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Shinya Fujiki support for a zero tariff from the current 18% during the winter season and 8% during the summer.
Japan is one of the countries that heavily tax bananas imported from the Philippines.
For nearly three decades, from 1991 to 2017, Japan was the largest importer of Philippine bananas. But China took the top spot in 2018 when it bought more than 1.1 million tons of bananas from the Philippines, a 56% increase from 2017, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
DA said Fujiki wished to discuss the banana tariff in the context of the ongoing review of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA). PJEPA, formerly known as the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or JPEPA, is a bilateral agreement intended to liberalize trade, investments and labor relations between the two countries.
The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, whose members export 50% of their banana production to Japan, has asked the Philippine government to fast-track negotiations on the reduction of tariffs to maintain the country’s position in the Japanese market even as more Japanese importers strike deals with other banana producers such as Vietnam, Peru, Ecuador, and Indonesia.
Aside from the request to lower tariffs for bananas, Dar during the bilateral meeting also brought to the table the Philippines’ request for updates on market access for Philippine Hass avocados and for the accreditation of the Philippines as a foot and mouth disease-free country.
On Japan’s part, Fujiki raised, among others, the elimination of tariff on Japanese rice, and access to the Philippine market of Japanese strawberries, the DA said.
The department added that both countries agreed to fast-track the submission of necessary documents to expedite the process of enhancing bilateral trade.
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