Australia, Philippines see progress on banana trade
MANILA, Philippines – The discussion around allowing Philippine banana exports into Australia again saw some progresss this week.
Ambassador Steven Robinson told reporters Thursday evening, April 4, that Australia asked the Philippine government to provide a range of documentation "so that we can then assess the Philippines’ application on bananas coming in to Australia."
"We’ve received that so now we’re going through a consultation process with the Philippines to go through that documentation, and quarantine restrictions. We’ve got progress," he added.
"The great part was we’ve moved to a situation where things are moving forward."
Philippine bananas have been barred from entry into Australia since 1995.
No timeline yet
Despite the forward movement, Robinson said there is still no timeline for them to follow.
Another meeting between Australian and Philippine authorities is set to happen in the middle of 2019.
With Australia also producing bananas, the newly-appointed ambassador said the country's local production is already sufficient, as long as there are no natural disasters that might affect plantations.
In a report by BusinessMiror, local banana growers also considered Australia's capital to be a "small market."
The Philippines is at a deficit with Australia in terms of agricultural trade. As of the fourth quarter of 2018, trade imbalance stood at $84.81 million, which is currently the fourth largest agricultural trade deficit.
Better business ties
During the Australian embassy's Annual Journalists' Reception, Robinson said he wanted more Australian businesses to take advantage of the investment opportunities in the Philippines, regardless of the industry.
"I do note that, obviously, there’s a lot happening in the infrastructure and the construction space. But I think there’s more opportunties than that. So pretty much, every area has opportunity for Australia," he said
"Where we provide something that’s unique is in science and technology and innovation; they’re the things that Australia does very well. So solar, technology, wind farms and the like, that’s the stuff we’re really trying to focus upon," Robinson added.
So far, around 300 Australian businesses are already operating in the Philippines, ranging in sectors from banking to energy, and also including mining.
Despite this goal, Robinson said there was still a need for him to convince more businesses to expand their operations into the Philippines.
"They (Australian companies) hear more about problems rather than the positive – unrest, they hear about problems in the south, they hear about terorrism, they hear about all sorts of things," Robinson said.
"Yes, they are issues but they are issues that are under control in a sense that we’re working with the Filipino government to deal with, but when you go to Metro Manila and you look at Clark, and you look at opportunities that exist around the country, there are many more opportunities, many more positives than negatives and that’s what I need to get across to Australian companies," he added. – Rappler.com