International Banana Conference opens today as PBGEA reiterates call for lower tariffs

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THE INTERNATIONAL Banana Conference, organized by the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport)-Region XI Chapter, starts today as the major industry players reiterated their call on government to negotiate for lower tariffs in export destination nations. Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc. (PBGEA) Executive Director Stephen A. Antig, in an interview, expressed frustration over government’s slow action on their appeals. Philippine banana exports are slapped an 8% tariff in Japan during summer and 18% during winter when it is harvest time for their fruits. A 30% tariff is being imposed by South Korea. “We still pay very high tariffs for our banana exports to Japan and Korea,” Mr. Antig said, noting that the country’s banana industry, which is mostly based in Mindanao, provides direct employment to more than 340,000 people with an estimated P51 billion salary per annum and a tax contribution to the government of P7 billion per year. One of the objectives of the three-day conference, to be held in Davao City, is to “enhance the country’s position in establishing market harmony with trading partners via reduction if not elimination of tariffs and regulatory impositions on said agricultural product,” according to Philexport. — Carmencita A. Carillo