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DA chief seeks new Japanese envoy’s assistance to boost Philippine agri exports

Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. is seeking the help of Japan’s new envoy to Manila, Ambassador Endo Kazuya, to increase exports of agricultural products to the Asian power house.

The new Japanese ambassador recently paid a courtesy call to Sec. Tiu Laurel to discuss agricultural cooperation between the two countries, particularly details of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture and Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the recently adopted ASEAN-Japan Midori Cooperation Plan.

The two officials discussed various topics, including sustainable agriculture initiatives, trade facilitation, market access concerns, and DA’s upcoming hosting of the inaugural meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Agriculture scheduled on May 30-31.

Sec. Tiu Laurel relayed to Amb. Kazuya the Philippines’ long-standing request for the reduction of tariffs for Philippine bananas, Philippines’ market access of fresh hass avocadoes, revival of Philippine mango exports to Japan, and the possibility of regionalization to facilitate the export of processed poultry products to Japan.

Banana is the Philippines’ top agricultural export to Japan, with total volume between 2020 and 2023 reaching 3.4 million metric tons, based on sanitary and phytosanitary permits issued. A tariff reduction could further improve competitiveness and increase shipments of Philippine bananas to Japan, where it is a major part of the Japanese diet.

Between January and April 15 this year, banana exports from the Philippines to Japan reached 241,282 metric tons. Nine varieties of bananas are exported to Japan, but Cavendish is still most preferred in the Japanese market.

During the discussions, Secretary Tiu Laurel also reiterated the Philippines market access request of fresh hass avocadoes to Japan. He expressed hope for the final announcement of market access this year, as the Workplan on Phytosanitary Requirements for Imports of Philippine fresh avocadoes to Japan was already agreed in principle during his last visit to Japan in December 2023.

As for mangoes, export of fresh mangoes has gone down significantly from 59