Japan to expedite Philippines request on exports, tariff

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Japanese government has vowed to fasttrack the request of the Philippines to ease up on export protocols and tariff issues.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Japan has softened on long-standing issues on banana tariffs and market access for Philippine agricultural products.

Piñol met with Takamori Yoshikawa, the current Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan.

“Yoshikawa promised to fasttrack the processing of documents and requirements related to the issues raised by the Philippine government during President Duterte’s visit,” he said.

“The meeting, coming only one week after President Duterte’s visit, was a surprise development as Japan is known for its stringent protocols on official engagements and it normally takes months before meetings could be arranged,” Piñol said.

Among the issues discussed were the request of the Philippines for a zero tariff on Cavendish banana exported to Japan.

The Philippines sought for a uniform tariff of up to eight percent for Philippine agricultural products all year round.

The ministers also tackled the exemption from 100 percent inspection of banana exporting companies who are compliant to the minimum residue level of chemicals set by Japanese health authorities.

“There is also the fasttracking of the market access of Philippine avocados and the recognition by Japan of the Philippines’ status as a foot-and-mouth disease free country as declared by the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health),” Piñol said.

To recall, the Philippines has been lobbying to lift stricter tests for chemical residue on Philippine banana exports.

Local growers have emphasized that banana exports comply with Japanese standards for the maximum residue level for chemicals used as insecticides in banana plantations following the institution of new protocols and assessment process by the Bureau of Plant Industry.

Philippine bananas used to dominate the Japanese market, supplying as much as 90 percent of the total requirements.

In recent years, however, bananas from Ecuador have penetrated Japan.

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