GMA'S GOAL: MORE RP FRUIT EXPORTS TO KOREA, JAPAN

Manila, June 4, 2003 -- Better market access for Philippine fruit exports 
is the government's main economic agenda during President Arroyo's state 
and working visits to Korea and Japan, Trade and Industry secretary Mar 
Roxas said.

"While we appreciate the efforts made the governments of Korea and Japan to
accommodate Philippine fruit exports and lowering tariffs, we will still 
push for
further reduction in tariff to make our products competitively priced in 
the market,"
Roxas said.

Roxas said that tariff imposed by Korea on Philippine bananas is currently 
at 30
percent plus 10 percent adjustment tariff. In 1991, Korea imposed a 50 percent
tariff on bananas, plus 40 percent adjustment tariff topped by a 10 percent 
VAT.

The adjustment tariff is designed to deter importation of particular goods 
such as
luxury items and a safeguard against temporary import surge in the case of
bananas. Korea, however, applied the tariff despite failing to prove that 
there is
indeed an import surge of bananas.

Roxas said that the government will also ask the Japanese government to allow
Philippine fruits better access to the Japanese market through lowered tariffs,
inclusion in the Generalized System of Preferences and certification of local
treatment processes.

The 10 percent VAT imposed by Korea on bananas was eventually scrapped in
1998 and the adjustment tariff progressively brought down from 40 percent in
1998 to the present 10 percent.

"We acknowledge the steps taken by the Korean government to improve market
access for our bananas but out exporters still find the 30 percent basic 
tariff high
compared to those in other markets," Roxas said.

China currently imposes a 13 percent tariff on bananas and is scheduled to 
cut it
further to 10 percent in 2004. Taiwan imposes a 12.5 percent tariff, Japan 
10 to
20 percent and the United States 1.4 percent.

The government cited that banana exports were singled out by the Korean
government for assessing adjustment tariff.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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