Thursday, September 07, 2006

For Mindanao, lasting fish and prosperity

Good thing there's Mindanews. Reports like these rarely appear -- if they do at all -- in the Manila press.

Tuna can be the fish of peace

Will lowering the tariff on Philippine tuna shipments to the United States contribute to the peace process in Mindanao?

American Embassy officials think so, according to Francisco J. Buencamino, executive director of the Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines.

He said American Embassy officials who had held talks with tuna industry players believed that increasing the value of tuna earnings via lowering of levy charges would contribute to the peace process in Mindanao “in Mindanao in line with the wider campaign against global terrorism and world peace.”

Currently, in-quota shipments in the United States are slapped with a 6- percent tariff while out-quota shipments are imposed a 12.5-percent tax.

The Andean Trade Pact, wherein the United States gives preference to Andean member countries, will end in December this year.

Under this scheme, Andean countries have been allowed to ship in their tuna in pouches at zero-percent tariff.

Buencamino suggested they want to enjoy the same privileges the US accorded to Andean member countries.

The market share of Philippine tuna in 2004 was at 10.75 percent valued at $74 million, although its share of the volume was at 18 percent, he said.

He noted the United States wanted to increase the Philippines’ tuna export as doing so would create more jobs essential in enhancing the peace process in Mindanao, where tuna production activities are concentrated.

Mindanao has been plagued by an intermittent wars waged by Moro and communist rebel groups.

Peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been stalled by the ticklish ancestral domain agenda, which includes issues on territory and governance.

Read more here.

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