BANANA exports in 2020 are expected to decline 20% due to stronger competition, higher tariffs, and declining output and hectarage due to Panama disease, the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc. (PBGEA) said.

In a virtual media briefing on Wednesday, PBGEA Chairman Alberto Paterno F. Bacani said banana exports in 2020 will decline to 165 million boxes compared with 195 million boxes in 2019.

“The banana export value in 2020 will be around $1.65 billion, lower than the $1.95 billion in 2019,” Mr. Bacani said.

Mr. Bacani said the market share of Philippine banana exports in various countries has declined, with Japan, China, and South Korea admitting more product from Vietnam, Cambodia, Ecuador, Peru, and Guatemala.

Mr. Bacani said that in 2019, Philippine banana exports held 65.8% of the South Korean market, down from 76.9% 2018, after inroads made by Ecuador and Guatemala.

Mr. Bacani added that bananas from the Philippines are charged higher tariffs.

“If you look at our neighboring countries like Vietnam, their tariff rates for the South Korean market by 2021 will be at 9% while Colombia will be at 0%. Meanwhile, the Philippines is at 30%,” Mr. Bacani said.

“Definitely, it is going to discourage importers from sourcing from the Philippines due to the high tariff rates,” Mr. Bacani said.

Further, Mr. Bacani said that China has overtaken Japan as the number one market for Philippine bananas.

“China became the top banana export market due to friendly and warm relations of the current administration with the Chinese government,” Mr. Bacani said.

However, Mr. Bacani said Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Ecuador will be competing for share in China.

“There is potential for Cambodia and Vietnam to be big banana exporters because they have lots of land that is also well-irrigated,” Mr. Bacani said.

“In particular, our Asian neighbors enjoy a logistical advantage against the Philippines because they are close to China. You just need to transport the fruit to the border. They really save money on freight,” Mr. Bacani said.

In addition, Mr. Bacani said the national government needs to help the banana export industry with research on fighting Panama disease.

“We have been doing our own research on how to combat Panama disease. But we really need the government’s help in solving the problem,” Mr. Bacani said.

Mr. Bacani urged the national government to help the banana export industry to survive, amid better global competition and political hurdles.

“This is no longer an issue of one Philippine banana company competing against another company. It is the Philippines against the world. Our government should take notice,” Mr. Bacani said.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, fresh banana exports were the Philippines’ top agricultural export commodity in 2019, valued at $1.93 billion. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave