In a strategic move, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has announced its ambitious plans to enhance and diversify the export of agricultural products to Japan, aiming to capitalize on opportunities for growth in the Japanese market.
Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. highlighted the intent to boost shipments of a variety of agricultural goods, including fish, pineapple, banana, avocado, mango, durian, mangosteen, and okra. Proposals for expanding market access will be presented at the upcoming meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Agriculture in the second quarter.
"This very first meeting of the joint agriculture committee of the two Asian neighbors here in the Philippines will provide an avenue to follow through on agri-fisheries trade and market access discussions started in Japan," stated Mr. Laurel.
To support this expansion, the DA is developing a comprehensive Philippine Agricultural Export Development Plan, aimed at promoting more exportable crops. The joint committee meeting will also explore potential technical and project collaborations between the Philippines and Japan.
Collaborating with the Department of Trade and Industry, the DA is actively working to secure a preferential tariff rate for Philippine bananas, considering competition from countries like Cambodia, Laos, Mexico, and Vietnam, which benefit from zero or preferential tariffs on their banana exports to Japan. The Philippines faces seasonal tariffs of 18% between Oct. 1 and March 31, and 8% between April 1 and Sept. 30 under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement. The geographical proximity of the Philippines to Japan enables the shipment of competitively priced bananas and tropical foods that meet Japanese standards.
Moreover, the DA is keen on revitalizing mango exports to Japan, acknowledging a decline since 2011 due to stricter sanitary and phytosanitary standards, especially the maximum residue limit. In response, Mr. Laurel has directed the immediate enhancement of testing laboratories to align with Japan's food codes.
Agricultural exports to Japan totaled $679 million in the third quarter of 2023, according to Aleli Maghirang, the DA agriculture attaché in Tokyo. The DA's proactive approach signifies a significant step towards expanding trade relations and ensuring the Philippines remains a key player in the Japanese agricultural market.