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PHL sees banana exports to China growing 5% in 2012

Despite the problems hounding trade relations with China because of territorial dispute over West Philippine (South China) Sea, banana exports to the world’s second largest economy will grow by at least 5 percent, according to stakeholders in the Philippines. 
“Shipments to China have already reached 400,000 MT as of end-September,” Clarito Barron, Bureau of Plant Industry director, told reporters on Tuesday.
Based on latest figures available, there is still three months remaining, and expectations are high that the numbers will still grow, the official said. 
The industry expects shipments to reach 475,650 metric tons this year from 453,000 MT last year
Barron said China needs more food including fruits and vegetables to feed its more than 1billion people, especially this time of year – the winter season.
The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) noted a steady rise in demand from China starting last August.
“There are more shipments now and demand is rising, although we still experience the same problems in inspection from time to time,” said association president Steve Antig, referring to stricter phytosanitary measures by Chinese authorities that tend to restrict the entry of Philippine Cavendish into their market.
The inspection method has improved but still “a tad slower than what it was before inspection problems set in,” Antig noted.
The inspection process was also reverted to random from the mandatory 32 to 40 boxes of after pests were found in several shipments last April, he added.
After explaining in writing to the Chinese authorities that the pests found in those shipments were mealy bugs and not scale insects, the Agriculture Department was able to convince them to lift the mandatory inspection.
Next to Japan, China is the second largest market for Philippine Cavendish.
With shipments to traditional buyers China, Russia, the Middle East, Korea, New Zealand, and Japan, Cavendish is the Philippines’ second biggest cash-crop export – valued at P30.2 billion in 2010 – after coconut. — VS, GMA News