Australia waiting for PH action on banana exports

THE Australian government is still waiting for the Philippines’ coordination regarding the banana exportation as it vows to remain open and willing as long as the quarantine procedures are followed.

February of this year Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) president Stephen Antig said they are hopeful of the possibility of an export market to Australia after Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely said in a press conference in Makati City that they are willing to assist banana exporters in the Philippines to comply with the export measures of Australia.

However, Gorely stated that not a single Philippine banana company had approached them to express interest in exporting to Australia.

This observation was supported by Mat Kimberley, deputy head of Mission for the Australian Embassy in the Philippines.

“We are an island continent. We have a very unique biodiversity and flora and fauna. We do have very strict quarantine requirements and we do not make any apologies for that... Companies that have interest to come to Australia are very, very welcome. The agriculture people are very happy to work with them to make sure that they understand what those requirements are. I’m confident that if any company is serious about wanting to export, then they can make it. The fact is, that none of them have actually come to us yet,” Kimberley said during the weekly Kapehan sa Dabaw press conference at SM City Davao yesterday, May 21.

In a phone interview with Antig yesterday he told Sun.Star Davao that PBGEA already had a meeting with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) last Friday, May 18. During the meeting they have discussed the plans on penetrating the Australian market.

“Our government, through DA and DTI promised to get in touch with their counterparts in Australia in order to find out the Australian government’s protocol on exportation. Of course, it is better that the transaction would be government-to-government instead of through the private sector. There is no definite schedule of their meeting yet but we are hoping that the government will act on this very soon. Hopefully, within six months,” Antig said.

He added that once the exportation is pushed through and approved, he is confident that the Philippines, especially Mindanao, will be able to cater to the Australian demand of bananas. Currently, their demand of bananas is at around 30 to 40 million boxes per year.

The countries with the highest demand of bananas from the Philippines are China and Iran at 70 to 80 million boxes per year and 40 to 70 million boxes per year, respectively.

Antig is also confident of the quality of the bananas from the Philippines as it is continued to be exported to other countries as well. In terms of logistics, he said the Philippine bananas can even reach to as far as New Zealand, which is a little bit farther than Australia.

“We do not plan to entirely acquire the entire market of Australia as we know they also have banana growers there. What we want is to penetrate the Australian market first. In the long run, it will depend on the importers who they prefer – us or their local banana growers. But as we know, we are a lot cheaper than the local growers there because their labor cost is also quite high,” he said.

With the Australian market very much willing and is only waiting for coordination from the Philippine government, Antig wishes that the country’s officials would finally keep in touch with the Australian government as soon as possible to finally tap this potential market.


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