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PH promotes bananas to Australia

Despite rejections and very stringent rules imposed by Australia on Philippine banana exports, the Department of Trade and Industry said it will continue to push for exports of this agricultural product in Australia as a new market for bananas.

“It is a continuing effort to push for our banana exports to Australia,” said DTI undersecretary Cristino L. Panlilio. After banning the entry of bananas, Australia opened its market in 2009 but with very stringent rules that still effectively ban the entry of imported bananas. Panlilio, however, said that the banana issue will not be part of the trade agenda during President’s visit.

Panlilio said that during the height of the difficulties of the banana sector to export to China, the country’s second biggest banana market, the Philippines tried to offer bananas to Australia but it rejected the offer.

Senen M. Perlada, executive director of the Bureau of Export and Trade Promotion of DTI, said that one of these non-tariff measures, mostly SPS and some technical protocols, is Australia’s requirement that banana fruits should come from banana trees with 8 leaves each. Other countries allowed banana fruits to come from trees with five leaves only.

Australia, which also grows bananas, has been very protective of its agriculture industry.

“Australia is very strict, we can export if we can pass their very stringent requirements,” he said.

Panlilio said the government is now working for direct exports to the Middle East countries like Iran and Iraq, which banana requirements are being served by the Philippines indirectly through Dubai.

Exports to the Middle East countries are being hampered by the different banking procedures thus, exports have to pass through Dubai, Panlilio said.

At present, Cavendish bananas, the variety that is most exported, is still classified under the exclusion list of imports by most countries, if not all of the country’s trading partners. As such, banana imports carry tariff rates ranging from 10 to 40 percent. The Philippines ranks second to Ecuador as the world’s top banana exporters.

The Pilipino Banana Growers & Exporters Association Inc. (PBGEA), the umbrella organization of 33 banana-exporting companies in 11 provinces in Mindanao, cited a report from Ecuador that it has also penetrated the Philippines’ traditional banana export market. The Ecuador report noted that its exports to South Korea increased three-folds in 2010. The Philippines is the biggest supplier of bananas to South Korea.

Among the new markets being eyed for Philippine bananas include Russia and Scandinavian countries, he said. Other prospective export market for Philippine bananas include Canada, Middle East and other ASEAN countries.

China is the second largest market of Philippine bananas. The Philippines supplies 91 percent of the China banana market.

Last year, the Philippines exported a total of $366.68 million of bananas to China, supplying 91.36 percent of its total banana requirements.

To date, Japan is the country’s biggest export market for bananas where the Philippines supplies 90 percent of the Japanese requirement followed by the China and the US.


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