Businessmen in Negros Oriental have expressed apprehension over the impending implementation of the zero tariff in 2015 under the Asian Free Trade Agreement.
Under the AFTA, a zero tariff may be imposed on imported products from neighboring Asian countries that are expected to flood the Philippine markets in 2015.
Ed Du, president of the Negros Oriental Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who attended the Small and Medium Enterprises Roving Academy of the Department of Trade and Industry in Dumaguete Wednesday, said businessmen are feeling threatened by the AFTA as the local markets are not ready yet to compete with foreign products.
Du, who cited sugar and its by-products, said that Thailand and Vietnam will offer stiff competition to local sugarcane planters and manufacturers since their production is subsidized by their governments.
Prices of local sugar are higher compared to other countries in the region as production costs are expensive, on top of the 12 percent Value Added Tax being collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, he added.
He said the production of fruits and vegetables must also be improved to be able to compete with the imported varieties.
Du recommended a partnership between the Philippine government and other neighboring Asian countries for the return of the barter trade concept. He said products from each country in Asia should not compete with each other to protect farmers from being at the losing end.
He said the national government should identify its best products for mass production, and barter to other countries.*JFP
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