PH, South Korea free trade deal 'big boost' to banana industry, other agri products

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 28 2021 11:38 AM | Updated as of Oct 28 2021 12:31 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte at the virtual 38th and 39th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits and Related Summits, Oct. 26, 2021 at the Malacañang Palace. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo/File
President Rodrigo Duterte at the virtual 38th and 39th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits and Related Summits, Oct. 26, 2021 at the Malacañang Palace. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA— Several agricultural products from the Philippines, including bananas, will benefit from the free trade agreement (FTA) between the country and South Korea, an official said Thursday. 

In an interview with ANC, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the 2 countries have agreed on duty free market access for agricultural products from the Philippines as well as the reduction of tariffs for South Korean automotive imports to the country.

Banana farmers are among the major beneficiaries since a provision under the FTA grants a "duty free market access over a 5-year period in equal annual installment from the current 30 percent," Dar said. 

"From 30 percent (tariff) then every year mayroon (there's a) reduction until it reaches 0 by the fifth year," he said. 

"If you look at the totality for the market access for a good number of agricultural products, we have a good deal. Kasi maraming natulungan (Many will benefit)," he added.

The Philippines exported to South Korea some 332,000 metric tons of bananas worth $280.2 million dollars in 2018, 286,000 metric tons in 2019, and 260,000 metric tons in 2020, the official said.

"With this now, it’s going to sustain again the export of banana in South Korea, this would really be a big boost to the banana industry in the Philippines," Dar said. 

Aside from bananas, here's a list of other produce covered in the FTA: 

• Okra - duty free market access over a 10-year period in equal annual installments from 5 percent 
• Papaya - duty free market access over a 15-year period in equal annual installments from 24 percent 
• Pineapple - duty free market access over a 7-year period in equal annual installments from 36 percent
• Refined coconut oil - duty free access over a period of 10 years from 3 percent
• Cashew nuts - duty free access over a 10-year period in equal annual installments from 8 percent
• Fruit juice and other spirits including rum - duty free market access over a 10-year period in equal annual installments from 5 percent
• Beer - duty free access over a 15-year period in equal annual installments from 15 percent

President Rodrigo Duterte in Tuesday's ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit said the FTA is a step towards deeper interaction and post-pandemic recovery of the two economies.

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Meanwhile, locally, Dar said the agency is working with the Bureau of Customs in the crackdown on smuggled vegetables such as carrots and cabbage from China.

Dar said authorities were able to confiscate almost P400-million worth of smuggled vegetables.

Vegetable producers and traders from Benguet earlier asked authorities to look into the illegal trade of goods, which resulted in reduced earnings and lower retail prices.