Philippine banana grower-exporter association the PBGEA has urged the Philippine government to take a strong national stand against Australia's non-tariff banana barriers and reduce imports of Australian goods, reports Philippine communications agency Devcom Mindanao.
According to the report, PBGEA president Alexander Valoria appealed to the Aquino government on Monday to stand firm and push for Australian access, despite strong Australian grower and government resistance.
Mr Valoria said Australia's annual trade surplus against the Philippines of over A$631m should be justification for a strong national stand against Australia's banana trade barriers.
"Unless Australia ensures a fair playing field, our government needs to reduce importations from Australia and import from other countries that welcome Philippine produce such as New Zealand where we can source our milk and milk products," he said.
Mr Valoria's remarks came after Queensland, Australia, MP Bob Katter called the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) the "Grim Reaper that will kill Australian farming" for recommending that Philippine banana imports be allowed.
Mr Katter claims diseases from Philippine bananas will devastate Australian agriculture, including banana production which is concentrated in his constituency.
AQIS maintains its stringent import protocols are in place to avert such a threat.
Mr Valoria said he deplored the Australians' fist-banging and flag-waving protectionist routine.
"They are sticking to the same song and dance to legitimise their non-tariff barriers against Philippine bananas," he said.