Banana growers eye resumption of trade with Iran (Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – Banana growers are eyeing to increase exports of Cavendish bananas to Iran after the United Nations (UN) lifted trade sanctions linked to nuclear activities on the Middle East country, the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) said yesterday.

PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig said they recently met with Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Mohammadi to discuss the possibility of increasing banana exports and having Iranian investments in the sector.

The Philippines has been exporting fresh bananas to Iran for almost two decades.

In 2008, the export of fresh bananas reached 510,642 metric tons, but after the UN slapped trade restrictions on Iran due to its nuclear activities, it fell to 148,892 metric tons in 2014.

“Over the years, Iran continues to be one of the most important foreign market of fresh Philippine bananas of the Cavendish variety. In fact, despite the difficulties encountered by banana exporters brought about by the economic and financial sanctions imposed by the UN of which we are grateful now that it is lifted, Iran continues to be one of our best destinations,” said Antig.

He said they were informed that Iran’s food industry is growing because of increasing influx of tourists. Last year, Iran had seven million tourists last year and is targeting to attract 25 million visitors in 2020.

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Mohammadi told PBGEA it cannot supply its own market. He also said Iranian businesses are interested in investing in banana plantations in Davao.

“We are on board with all the efforts. More intensive effort is now possible. A trade mission is good and we should organize one soon,” said PBGEA president Alexander Valoria.

Aside from Iran, the Philippine fresh bananas are also exported to Japan, the Gulf countries of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain China South Korea Hong Kong Singapore Russia New Zealand Mongolia Ukraine Turkey Iraq Egypt and in the neighboring countries of ASEAN such as Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. There are also niche markets in Europe.

Banana is among country’s top agricultural exports. The Philippines is the second largest banana exporter in the world, making the banana industry a consistent top dollar earner.

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