Philippine bananas Japan

The Philippine government is campaigning to have Japan drop tariffs on a number of fresh fruit lines, as competition from Latin American suppliers intensifies.

According to the Philippine Star,the proposal of zero tariffs on the country’s agricultural exports was a key discussion point during PresidentRodrigoDuterte’s visit to Japanover the weekend, with tariff-free access for bananas, pineapples and mangoes a priority.

“During the first Presidential visit to Japan, I discussed with the Japanese agriculture minister the issue of tariff on Philippine fruits, especially bananas. The negotiations, however, have been very slow,” Philippine agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol told the Philippine Star.

“Finance secretary Carlos Dominguez advised me to provide him all the documents related to previous negotiations with the Japanese government for the granting of zero tariff on Philippine fruits.”

During its own banana harvest Japan imposes a tariff of up to 18 per cent on Philippine imports, however, this reduces to 2.5 per cent during gaps in domestic production.

The Philippines has traditionally been a key counter-seasonal supplier for the Japanese market, once controlling around 90 per cent of the import trade, according to the Philippine Star. Ecuador has eaten into the Philippines’ market share over recent years, thanks to a reduction in shipping costs and a preferential trade agreement.

“Ecuador, a major banana producing country, has been given zero tariff for its bananas exported to Japan,” Piñol added. “While Japanese consumers prefer Philippine bananas, trading companies are starting to shift to Ecuadorian bananas because of economic considerations.”