Gov’t told to start bilateral talks with SoKor on banana tariff issue
Banana exporters are now pressing the government to immediately pursue bilateral talks with major market South Korea on the unresolved issue of high import tariff imposed on Philippine Cavendish.
The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) said Malacañang is expected to initiate negotiations for bilateral trade talks with Seoul to specifically include the long-standing issue on banana import tariff.
“We understand the government is in current negotiations with Turkey and Chile for respective bilateral trade issues. Although we are not intentionally undermining the importance of such negotiations with our other trade partners, we are still urging Malacañang to immediately and seriously look at the plight of the country’s second-largest agricultural export being charged with atrociously high import tariffs in South Korea,” Stephen A. Antig, PBGEA executive director, said.
PBGEA’s statement came shortly after Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said there’s now a possibility of forging a bilateral Preferential Trading Arrangement (PTA) with South Korea to improve market access for the country’s banana exports.
In response, Antig said the industry will give its full cooperation with Philippine trade representatives to draft a mutually beneficial proposal that will be submitted to Seoul.
The banana exporters believe that waiting for the conclusion of the highly ambitious RCEP agreement to settle this tariff concern would be very tedious for the industry.
Trade between the Philippines and South Korea remains lopsided in favor of the East Asian country year after year.
In 2017, the Philippines’ trade deficit versus Korea amounted to over $4 billion.