PH reiterates call for Australia to allow banana exports

Published April 28, 2021, 8:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Philippines has reiterated its request for Australia to grant market access for fresh Cavendish bananas and to lift the anti-dumping measure imposed on the country’s canned pineapples.

This was raised at the Philippines – Australia convene 2nd Trade, Investment, and Industry Dialogue led by Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo and Australia’s Department of Foreign and Trade Deputy Secretary Christopher Langman. 

The convening of the second Philippines – Australia Trade, Investment and Industry Dialogue (PATIID) on 20 April 2021 marked the reactivation of the economic bilateral cooperation mechanism after a six-year hiatus. The Dialogue was also held as part of a series of events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Philippines – Australia diplomatic relations.  

On the part of the Philippines, Rodolfo lauded the country first ever shipment of frozen durian fruit from Davao to Australia. 

But Rodolfo has strongly reiterated its request for the grant of market access by Australia for fresh Cavendish bananas  as top priority, with durian and dragon fruit also subsequently lined up for consideration. It also requested the termination of the anti-dumping measure on Philippine canned pineapples. 

Australia noted that it will closely work with the Philippine government and its exporters on addressing these requests. Despite these issues, the Philippines highlighted green shoots of hope such as the expansion of Filipino food, fashion, and homestyle retailing offerings in Australian mainstream supermarket and retail stores.  

Both countries recognized Australia’s significant contribution to the Philippines’ total investments with more than 300 Australian companies employing about 44,000 Filipinos engaged in various activities such as mining, shipbuilding, energy supply, retail trade, accommodation and food service facilities, manufacturing, transportation and storage. 

IT-BPM alone has at least 200 Australian companies present in the Philippines. The Philippines also welcomed the investment opportunity for Australian shipbuilding company Austal to develop an in-country facility for the supply of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) for national defense.  

Meanwhile, Australia acknowledged the fast growth of investments coming from the Philippines. Filipino companies that have successfully established a foothold in the Australian market include Victoria Container International Terminal, Monde Nissin, Ramcar Holdings, Inc., San Miguel Corporation, and Century Pacific Food, Inc., among others.  

To facilitate the increase of foreign investments, both countries updated each other of policy reforms for the improvement of the business environment. The Philippines provided an overview of its Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act and Australia of the changes in its foreign investment review framework.  

Australia highlighted its focus on building stronger and wider markets through investments and cooperation initiatives with its trading partners. In this regard, Australia proposed to collaborate with the following Philippine agencies: Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Anti-Red Tape Authority.  

A key highlight of the meeting was the promotion of opportunities to deepen trade and investment relationship in areas such as PPE, vaccine, and pharmaceutical manufacturing, copper industry, electric vehicles, agriculture, defense, shipbuilding, renewable energy, education, and development programs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Both sides welcomed the organization of the industry-focused side event on 11 May 2021 with key representatives from the business communities to complement the discussions of the PATIID.