Philippine banana industry could perish if problems left unresolved, says expert

The banana industry in the Philippines, one of the major economic drivers of the country, will perish in two to three years if threats remain unresolved, a banana expert warned. 

The Philipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) executive director Stephen Antig, said in press conference Tuesday morning, October 17, at the Apo View Hotel, that the Philippines’ declining share of the world banana industry should be seriously be taken up by the government. 

“The industry is facing serious problems, if unresolved, in two to three years we can kiss the banana industry goodbye. We are losing our major markets to Ecuador and other exporting countries,” he said.

Citing Dole Asia Holdings chair, David DeLorenzo’s, presentation at the Banana Conference last October 12, 2017, at the SMX Convention Center, SM Lanang Premier, Davao City, Antig enumerated the leading disruptive forces lurking behind the industry. These include:- Tariffs imposed on banana products shipped to export markets; disease and pestilence; climate change; speed and the inter connectivity of markets, and inconsistencies of government policies, among others.

Antig emphasized that the slow-paced response of the government to their pleas maybe because of the wrong mentality that exporters, especially those members of PBGEA, are already giant players, and so needed less assistance from the government. 

“Yes, we are a big industry but we also have bigger problems. We need enough government intervention because in the new global banana industry, the competition is now more between countries than it is between companies,” Antig said.

At present the Philippine banana industry is ranked 6th globally, an alarming decline from last 2014’s second spot behind Ecuador. 

Drop in exports 
From 2011 to 2016, the country lost 21%, or 50 million boxes, an enormous amount to consider.

“We exported 237 million boxes in 2011 while in 2016 we only exported 187 million boxes. If a net export value of is about $6 per box, it meant that Mindanao lost $300 million in revenue last year compared to 2011,” the Dole chair shared explaining the gravity of the issues facing the industry. 

Another big issue is the huge tariff imposed on banana products shipped to Japan and Korea. 

“We call on the Department of Trade and Industry to eliminate these tariffs as soon as possible, as Japanese and Korean importers start to strike deals with other banana producers such as Vietnam, Peru, Ecuador, and Indonesia among others,” Antig said. 

The Philippines is paying an average of 13.2 percent in tariffs to Japan and 30 percent to Korea. But Vietnam, Indonesia and other exporters are exporting bananas to Japan and Korea at zero percent tariff.

DeLorenzo said that if these are not renegotiated between governments the Philippines will lose completely the Korean and Japanese markets. 


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