Thursday, December 09, 2004

RP asks Iran to cut duties on fresh bananas to 20 percent

ABS-CBNNEWS.COM: "RP asks Iran to cut duties on fresh bananas to 20 percent

TODAY Reporter

The Philippines has asked Iran to slash tariff on imported bananas to 20 percent from the existing 66 percent to boost trade and investments relations between the two trading partners, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Thursday.

Trade Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement that the recently concluded 4th Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) served as an opportunity for the Philippine government to discuss with Iran market access issues pertaining to quarantine measures affecting bilateral trade of agricultural products. Purisima said he formally asked Iranian Minister of Commerce Mohammad Shariatmadari to reduce tariff on fresh bananas that account for about 80 percent of the country’s total merchandise exports to Iran.

“We are pushing for the tariff reduction from 66 percent to 20 percent on Iran’s import duty on Philippine bananas,” he said, adding that such will boost efforts “to pursue economic-based development and activities in Mindanao.”

The high import duty, he said, has effectively driven up the price of bananas in Iran, making the fruit less affordable among low- and middle-income consumers.

Two-way trade between the Philippines and Iran reached $542 million in the first eight months of the year. Philippine exports to Iran amounted to $19.95 million, and imports from Iran reached $522.36. Iran is the Philippines’ second major trading partner in the Middle East. It is the country’s third-biggest export market and the second-largest import supplier in the region.

Fresh bananas dominated the country’s exports to Iran with a share of 85 percent, while petroleum oils practically accounted for 99 percent Philippine imports from Iran.

Besides fresh bananas, the Philippines and Iran agreed to cooperate in the exchange of expertise on agricultural biotechnology; facilitate exports of agricultural products subject to the respective quarantine rules and regulations; joint research in rice, coconut, pineapple, mango, banana, papaya and other tropical fruits; barter exchange of Iran’s apple, kiwi, pomegranate, dates, cherry and dried fruit with the Philippines’s banana, pineapple and papaya; joint projects in soil and water management; and the exchange of scientific information in different fields of shrimp farming and other aquatics.

Other agreements signed during the three-day meeting that ended on December 8 included the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Trade Promotion Cooperation between the Iran Trade Promotion Organization and the Philippine Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (BETP) as well as the Protocol Amending the 1995 Agreement on Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investment.

Other agreements included the Executive Program for Broadcasting Cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and Philippines Radio and Television as well as the MOU between the Petrochemical Commercial Company and the Metro Alliance A Company to negotiate a contract for the Iranian company to supply ethylene bulk for the period of 2006 to 2010. "


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