Philippines - South Korea banana export deal still out

Talks for a new free trade deal with South Korea have stalled again, as both parties are failing to come to terms on the issue of market access. The negotiations are expected to drag further until a deal is made by the first quarter of 2021, at the earliest.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) did not go into any specifics, but trade negotiator Allan Gepty said the strongest interest on the part of the Philippines was to get better market access for Philippine tropical products, including banana.

South Korea is one of the most important export markets for Philippine bananas. But to enter the market, Philippine exporters have to pay a tariff rate of 30 percent, which local officials deemed lopsided since competitors would eventually be able to export tariff-free bananas to South Korea in a few years.

Gepty, assistant secretary at the DTI’s Industry Development and Trade Policy Group, told reporters from that the free trade agreement with South Korea is almost finished, except for two remaining issues—economic and technical cooperation and market access.

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