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Philippines: Piñol to discuss agri exports with Japanese counterpart

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol will meet his Japanese counterpart, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshikawa Takamori, on June 5 to discuss possible exportation of agricultural products as well as tariff issues on Philippine bananas.

Piñol, who accompanied President Rodrigo Duterte during his working visit to Japan on May 30-31, said he is leaving for Japan again Tuesday evening for the meeting with his counterpart.

"There will be four topics that I will discuss with my counterpart," he said in a press briefing on Monday. First is the recognition of the Philippines as a foot and mouth disease (FMD)- free country, which is critical for the country's exports. Second is the Philippines' market access for Hass avocado "because we're starting to produce Hass avocado".

The Hass is a cultivar of the avocado with dark green–colored, bumpy skin. All Hass avocado trees are descended from a single “mother tree”, which was raised by a mail carrier named Rudolph Hass, of La Habra Heights in California.

Piñol said the third topic that he will discuss with his Japanese counterpart is the Philippines' request to exempt compliant exporters from 100 percent mandatory exemption for bananas. "The last is about lowering of tariff on Philippine bananas," he said.

PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig said the banana export industry of the Philippines would lose the competition in the Japanese market if the imposition of tariff rates at eight percent during summer and a maximum of 18 percent during winter continue compared with competitors that enjoy zero tariff rates. quoted him as saying that the banana industry would suffer and might even collapse "if we cannot replace markets lost due to high tariffs”.

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