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But Emerson U. Palad, Department of Agriculture (DA) undersecretary for operations and agribusiness project development, said that they favorably supported the request of big banana growers in urging the government to act aggressively on securing the country's position in the Japanese market by reviewing the negotiation on tariffs imposed on banana products shipped to Japan.

?We fully support the renegotiation for the lowering of tariff rates to zero banana to Japan, at present no date is set for the renegotiation yet but we will inform you if we have better reports on this matter,? he said.

He added that they already favorably endorsed the concern to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

This developed after the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) sent another letter of request addressed to the Department of Agriculture last month as slow-paced development on the issue was observed.

?We sent another letter to DA last week, this is to put emphasis on our plea to the government, DA to be more aggressive and proactive on dealing with the issue,? Stephen Antig, executive director of PBGEA said.

Antig emphasized that urgent renegotiation of the Philippines' trade agreement with Japan is needed as more Japanese importers start to strike deals with other banana producers such as Vietnam, Peru, Ecuador, and Indonesia among others.

In a previous interview, Antig cited that at present, Philippines is paying a maximum of 18 percent tariff to Japan during winter and eight percent during summer but Vietnam, Indonesia and other Japan exporters are exporting bananas to Japan at zero percent tariff.

Antig added that the zero-tariff trade deals of other exporters to Japan will significantly reduce that country's dependence on the Philippine bananas.

PJEPA, formerly known as the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or JPEPA, is a bilateral agreement intended to liberalize trade, investments and labor relations between the two countries.?



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