Exporters: Iran fruit ban to cost P7.2B-A A +A
Thursday, October 7, 2010
DAVAO CITY -- Around 64,000 workers in Davao Region and P7.2 billion in exports will be adversely affected by Iran's ban on banana imports from the Philippines, an official said Wednesday.
Exporters and the military alike are worried that this will not just mean a drastic cut in the earnings of plantation companies but can stir unrest among the workers affected.
Stephen Antig, president of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), said the ban is an offshoot of the worsening relationship between the United States and the government of Iran.
United States has been building up forces against Iran on claims that it wants the latter to stop building nuclear weapons. In turn, Iran banned the importation of cavendish bananas from the Philippines, as well as other fruits from countries allied with the US.
"As far as revenue generation is concerned, this ban is going to reduce the revenue of as much as 175 million US dollars or approximately P7.2 billion," Antig said in Wednesday's Club 888 Business Forum at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao.
The ban will affect some 384,000 households, he said.
Antig said they are trying to find a loophole in the ban to continue trading with Iran.
One of the possibilities they are looking into is direct barter, where they send bananas in exchange for Iran products.
Iran is a big loss to the banana industry since it is among the biggest market among Middle Eastern countries.
Antig is afraid they will not find another market that will take in the bulk that Iran used to demand.
"We can, but unfortunately we are not going to be competitive because of the distance, because aside from the Philippines, other countries producing banana are also having problems right now with their produce. Ang mangyayari niyan is magkakaroon tayo ng banana war just like what happened in the early 80's," Antig said.
He added the ban is ill-timed as the Yuletide season is fast approaching.
Antig also said they are preparing to bring their concern to President Benigno Aquino III.
"I'm sure the damage would get the attention of the President. We will try to bring this to his attention," Antig said in an interview aired on local television.
Major General Jorge Segovia, commander of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, for his part, said he is paying close attention to the social implications of the ban.
Segovia said he was already informed by executives from the banana industry regarding the matter, noting that more than 200,000 families in Davao Region are dependent on banana plantations for livelihood.
"I have also discussed this with Commander (Raymundo) Ferrer of the Eastern Mindanao Command as this might have an effect not only on socio-economic aspect of the economy but also on peace and order," Segovia said in an interview at Kapihan sa SM media forum Monday.
"I'm sure many families are depending on the banana companies as source of income. I've been told that I will be informed on updates regarding the situation. We are aware and we are very much concerned," he said.
Segovia said the military is intensifying the government's delivery of services by working with the private sector.
Iran is one of the largest export markets for Davao Region's cavendish bananas, following Japan, China, and Korea.
The ban imposed by Iran is expected to have great repercussions on the local banana exporting industry, particularly on its export revenues.
Iran's Minister of Agriculture Sadigh Khalilian announced last week that they are banning the importation of fresh fruits, dairy products and fruit concentrates.
The ban, according to the website of Iran's Ministry of Agriculture, is for an indefinite period.
Aside from Philippine bananas, Iran has also banned the entry of 48 other agricultural products, including apples from France, pears from China, and even oranges from Egypt.
"The measure is in line with a bill recently passed by Majlis [Iran's Parliament], which was introduced by President [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad]," Khalilian said in his letter to Iranian Commerce Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari. (JOP/JCZ of Sun.Star Davao/With Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 07, 2010.