SOME exporters in Northern Mindanao yesterday revealed their companies found relief on paying taxes and duties imposed by other countries after the international free trade agreements (FTA) were signed and introduced in the Philippines in December 2008.

Simeon Laguna Jr., sales associate for Prime Fruits International Inc. (PFII), said they have not been paying tariff since the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) was signed in September 2006.

Previously, he said they were paying three percent tariff rate on all products they exported to Japan.

The PFII, operating for more than 25 years now, is producing banana chips and Nata de Coco with bulk of exports in Japan along with close competitors Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and even China.

In China’s most favored nation (MFN), the tariff rate is 10 percent.

However, under the Associated Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) China, exporters are not paying because of the partnership agreement.

In Japan, Laguna said his company was forced to settle three percent tariff rate before the implementation of the JPEPA.

New Zealandand Australia, which considered potential markets for the fruit company, are also collecting zero tariff, he said.
He added that even in the ASEAN Korea, the tariff rate is 45 percent of the total exports. The said nation is considering negotiation with the Philippines.

“The Asian Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement wherein the Philippines is a member among the 11 ASEAN countries, creates a bigger market for our company as it enhances the attractiveness for us, being part of the regional market and attracts customers not only from Japan and ASEAN countries but also to the rest of the world,” Laguna said as he addressed a crowd of exporters and importers yesterday at Pryce Plaza Hotel.

Laguna revealed the company’s sales records attest to the result in the implementation of the trading agreements.

“Looking at our sales records, our sales to Japan was up by 41 percent in 2009, which could be attributed to the benefits and advantages,” he said.

Yesterday’s forum on free trade areas was organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Ma. Eliza Pabillore, DTI) Misamis Oriental provincial head, said the trade department convened exporters and importers in Northern Mindanao to learn more and appreciate the benefits of “doing business on Free Trade Areas.”

article by Loui Maliza of SSC

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