Japan, PH start review of banana tariff removal

TheJapanese government has agreed to the proposal of the Philippines to review the proposal to eliminate the tariffs on bananas.

“We have been waiting for so long for the review, and at least we have made them agree to do it now,” said Director Ann Claire C. Cabochan of Bureau of International Trade Relations in an interview during the One Country One Voice Stakeholders Consultation.
Banana export groups have been pushing for the lowering of tariffs imposed bananas so that it can enhance its competitiveness with other countries, many of them not worrying on the tariff as they also get subsidies from t heir countries.

Pointing out that the review should have taken place in 2011 based on the bilateral agreement of the two countries, Cabochan said there is a need to intensify negotiations with the Japanese government for the elimination of the tariffs on banana so that it can become part of their bilateral agreement.

At present, the Japanese government is imposing 8-30 tariff rates on Philippine bananas as the country is conside

“Japan has its interests, we have our interests. The challenge in the negotiation is whether we can lock in our interest and they can also do something to lock in theirs,” she said, adding that the two sides have tapped venues for the review, including video conferences.

Aside from its bilateral agreement with the Philippines, Japan also has an agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a group that the Philippines is a party to.

Apart from agreements with Japan, the government is also working on other initiatives that will help the country penetrate the international markets.

The Department of Trade and Industry is promoting for the Generalized System Preferences (GSP) and Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The GSP is a unilateral trade arrangement which grants non-reciprocal preferential tariff treatments to exports of beneficiary countries.
FTA, meanwhile are arrangements between two or more countries to reduce trade barriers to make it easier and cheaper to import and export goods and services to trading partner markets.
“What we are talking about here are not only the schemes available like the generalized system preferences which are available to our stakeholders but also operation mechanisms we have with various partners like China, Turkey, Russia, that’s 29 countries and also free trade agreement partner for negotiations,” Cabochan said.
In the United States of America, the Philippines is part of the GSP mechanisms which offer preferential treatment to about 3,000 products that enter the country.

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