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Philippines urges Australia to open doors to banana imports

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez wants to export Philippine bananas to Australia, reiterating a call to allow market entry after the Australian government has kept its doors barred for more than two decades.

In a recent press briefing, Lopez told reporters that the bananas should first pass the import risk analysis done by the Australian government, which would assess the risks that could come with proposed product importations.

The Philippines has been trying to export bananas to Australia since 1995 but with no success.

In 2008, Biosecurity Australia, the inspection and quarantine assessment arm of Canberra’s agriculture department, released a report that said the “unrestricted risk” of Philippine cavendish banana exports is “too high.”
“We pushed for product inclusion for the banana,” Lopez said. “They said we just have to go through that [import risk analysis] and then they can consider it.”

“It’s just that the banana industry there is strong in terms of supply, so the prices are so competitive,” he added. “Even if we pass the analysis, the challenge is still to compete with the prices.”

Lopez was referring to the Australian demand for the tropical fruit, which is considered as the country’s biggest-selling supermarket product.
Lopez said this following the 49th Asean Economic Ministers and Related Meetings in Pasay City, which included a meeting with Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment Steven Ciobo.

In its 2008 report, Biosecurity Australia said that the findings showed that the risks with the proposed Philippine products exceeded Australia’s “appropriate level of protection,” calling it “too high to permit the importation of mature hard green bananas from the Philippines without the application of phytosanitary risk management measures.”

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Australia is the country’s 16th largest major trading partner in 2016 with total trade reaching $1.44 billion, albeit there is a trade deficit on the part of the Philippines.

Publication date: 9/13/2017


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