THE Philippines is taking steps to comply with stringent quarantine rules of Beijing in a bid to restore exports of fresh fruits to China.
Roberto Amores, a Food Sector trustee at the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExport), is confident fruit exporters would be able to meet China’s non-tariff measures on imported fruits, including improved packaging and other additional requirements besides the standard sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures.
He assured Chinese buyers that the Philippine is taking serious steps to restore the exports of fresh fruits to China.
“I have already mentioned the steps we have taken as part of the SPS protocols. These shall continue and improve further as we police our ranks to help ensure that no other disruptions will hamper our trade,” he said in a statement over the weekend.
But Amores strongly opposed the proposals that Philippine fruits undergo stricter vapor heat treatment, as it will shorten shelf life and add costs that make local exporters more uncompetitive than their Asean rivals.
China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has subjected Philippine fresh mangoes and bananas to more stringent SPS measures after pests were reportedly found in the shipments in 2012 – at the height of geopolitical tensions between Manila and Beijing over the Scarborough Shoal. Fresh pineapple and papaya exports were also found infested by pests, according to PhilExport.
The Philippines has complied with all global standards, including Good Agricultural Practices and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, Amores said, noting the country’s fresh and processed fruit exports to Japan, the Middle East, the United States and Europe have passed strict measures.
The Asean-China free trade agreement was supposed to remove the tariffs “but in their place, more non-tariff measures such as these are being imposed,” while China allows the smooth entry of the same agricultural products from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, Amores pointed out.
Earlier this month, China lifted the restrictions on mango and pineapple shipments from the Philippines ahead of Duterte’s state visit.