The Philippine Star 05/02/2005
Vegetables not included in ‘early harvest’ deal with China
By Marianne V. Go
Vegetables are not included in the Early Harvest Program (EHP) agreement the Philippines and China signed just this Wednesday, April 27, according to Trade and Industry Secretary Juan B. Santos, even though raw and unprocessed agricultural products are covered by the agreement.
According to Santos, the Philippines was able to insist on the exclusion of vegetables under EHP, but acceded to the request of China "to expeditiously complete the Pest Risk Analyses (PRA) for the importation of vegetables, in particular, carrots, cabbages, ginger and potatoes from China."
The PRA is a form of non-tariff barrier which, according to China, is an added impediment to the entry of Chinese vegetables into the Philippines.
The Philippines was also able to avoid the Chinese government’s insistence on a time-bound completion of the PRA. Implementation of the EHP would start by Jan. 1, 2006.
Among the items included in the EHP are pure-bred breeding animals such as live horses, bovine animals, swine, goats, chicks, turkeys, ducks and geese, and chickens.
Likewise, lives asses, mules and hinnies, sheep, primates, whales, dolphins and porpoises, manatees and dugongs, mammals, reptiles, birds of prey and other birds and other live animals are also included in the EHP.
Lamb carcasses, offals of bovine animals and swine would also be covered under the EHP.
Several variety of fish such as trout, salmon, herrings, haddock, mackerel, yellowfin tunas, skipjackor stripe-bellied bonito, cod, plaice, sole, eels, carp, halibut are also included in the EHP.
Other seafoods such as mussel, scallops, oyster, lobster, snails are covered as well.
Milk and certain dairy products such as cheeses are also included in the EHP.
Certain plants such as roses, trees, shrubs, rhodendrons and azaleas has been included as well.
A few vegetables not produced in the Philippines are apparently included in the EHP such as brussels sprouts, globe artichokes, truffles, olives, capers, dried onions, dried mushrooms and truffles, dried peas, dried chickpeas, kidney beans and other beans and nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts and walnuts.
Certain fruits are also covered by the EHP including bananas, pineapples, guavas and mangoes.
Santos explained that the list included in the EHP would actually benefit the Philippines because of China’s growing population and increased demand for resources, China would eventually not be able to export to the Philippines but would more likely import from the Philippines.
Allowing the entry of Chinese vegetables into the Philippine market could kill the local vegetable industry.
Local seaweed processors and exporters also fear that giving China access to raw Philippine seaweeds could cause a domestic shortage because China needs huge volumes of seaweed for its food manufacturing industries.
On the other hand, the Philippines is amenable to the export of processed seaweed or carrageenan which is a food and industrial additive used as an enhancer, emulsifier, gelling agent, thickener, binder and stabilizing agent in many meat, dairy, bakery, pharmacological and industrial products.
The full implementation of the ASEAN-China FTA is scheduled for 2010 with the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam joining only in 2012.
The early harvest program involves the earlier opening up of markets for a specified number of items.
Most of the ASEAN members have already reached an agreement with China for the early harvest program to be implemented this year with the Philippines and CLMV still holding out.