December 2, 2010
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan proposed that the Philippines appoint an agricultural attaché to Iran and send a high-level delegation to Tehran, preferably headed by our trade or agriculture secretary, to address the gaps regarding trade agreements between the two countries.
Pangilinan, who is chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, made these proposals during a public hearing on the detrimental effects of the US sanctions on Iran to the Philippine banana export industry in Davao City.
Both the farmers and the Department of Foreign Affairs deny that there is a trade ban on our bananas being imposed by Iran. However, Iranian businessmen are having difficulty in securing letters of credit as their currency is not accepted in trading; dollars are. And this is where the US sanction on Iran affects local banana exporters.
“Iranian traders mainly get their letters of credit through Dubai, which trades in dollars. Unfortunately, Dubai is complying with the US sanction on Iran. Consequently, Iranian traders aren’t able to pay our exporters,” Pangilinan pointed out.
The US imposed sanctions against Iran as the latter continues to build nuclear weapons. The Philippines and its banana exporters stand to lose $170 million in annual revenues. Fifteen percent of the country’s fresh bananas were exported to Iran in 2009.
“Kawawa naman ang mga magsasaka natin at wala naman tayong kinalaman sa awayan na ito.”
“We therefore suggest that we appoint an agricultural attaché to Iran and send a high-level delegation to Tehran so we can address the gaps. That would be the first step. Also, let’s look at other markets we’ve yet to explore: China, Kuwait, etc. We must find immediate solutions to address this impending crisis.”