Officials of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) aired a warning to the Philippine government, urging them to work on removing the current 30 per cent tariff on Philippine banana exports into South Korea.
The reduction of the tariff, according to the PBGEA, would allow the Philippine bananas to compete with other banana exporting countries on a level playing field. The association also labelled South Korea a ‘lucrative market’ for Philippine bananas.
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama have negotiated zero tariffs on bananas with South Korea by 2021, and each country has also has negotiated bilateral trade agreements on top of this.
“Cheap banana imports from Central America have started to eat into the share of Philippine bananas in the Korean market and these could totally push us out of the picture by 2022, unless we get the same zero-tariff treatment as they do,” said PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig.
According to the PBGEA, losing the South Korean market could cost a predicted 32,000 jobs in the Philippine banana industry. The association’s president, Alexander Valoria mentioned that even Vietnam will have zero tariffs on bananas by 2021.
Antig said that “without the actual removal of the import tariff, the Philippines will undoubtedly lose the Korean market to Central American competitors.”
“What we can do is to come up with a separate bilateral agreement, with Korea removing the import tariff on Philippine bananas,” he added.
According to PBGEA, South Korea represents a market of 30 million boxes for Philippine bananas, or the equivalent of 390,000 tons.