PHL to South Korea: Slash pineapple tariff to zero

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Business Mirror | 14 February 2017

PHL to South Korea: Slash pineapple tariff to zero

By Catherine Pillas

Manila has asked Seoul to bring down to zero the tariff it slaps on Philippine pineapple exports to South Korea, according to the chief of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said he made this request to Korean Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy Joo Hyungh-wan, who made a quick trip to the Philippines this week.

“We had a meeting with the Korean trade minister. He was in town to visit energy projects and met with me and Energy Secretary [Alfonso G. Cusi],” Lopez told reporters in an interview on Wednesday.

“On our part, our common interest is to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, advancement on the discussion on the [Asean-Korea Free Trade Agreement] AKFTA as a whole, and also a request to lower tariffs on local bananas and pineapples,” he added.

Currently, the DTI noted that Seoul slaps a 30-percent tariff on pineapples being shipped to South Korea.

Lopez said Seoul was keen on expanding the access of South Korean strawberries to the Philippine market.

Despite the controversy surrounding the death of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, the DTI chief made an assurance that Seoul’s trade and investment outlook on the Philippines remains “sanguine”.

“[Seoul] understood that it was an isolated incident, so we assured them that that will be resolved by the government. They’re aware of the overall peace and order situation,” Lopez told reporters.

As proof, Lopez said Samsung Electronics Philippines Corp. announced last week an expansion project in the Philippines costing $200 million.

Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) has already announced its plan to invest in a coal-fired power plant in Cebu.

These investments are apart from the interest expressed by auto maker Hyundai Motors to fill up the third slot in the DTI’s Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy Program.

Lopez said he intends to put forward the country’s trade interests within the framework of the AKFTA before the Asean Economic Ministers’ Meeting in April.

source: Business Mirror