Philippine-EU collaboration to reinforce investments and pork trade

Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

The Philippines held talks with EU countries to stimulate bilateral investments and pork trade, reigniting the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and the EU, and strengthening the Philippines’ trade ties with EU member states, the Philippine News Agency reported.

In a briefing, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said his visits to Germany and the Czech Republic opened doors for more opportunities to deepen the Philippines’ cooperation with Europe. “My visit to Germany resulted in business agreements for projects with an aggregate value of USD 4 billion in different sectors including agriculture.”

New technologies and vaccines

Under the revamped trade agreements, the Philippines intends to acquire new technologies and vaccines and establish strong ties with meat trading. Marcos highlighted that the Czech Republic has an avian flu vaccine and is set to develop a swine flu vaccine that the Philippines could procure. This development coincides with a time when the public is urging the government to convene a price coordinating council amid ASF-driven high pork prices.

Upon completion of talks, the Philippines-EU FTA becomes the country’s fourth bilateral trade. The existing FTAs are with Japan, South Korea, and the European Free Trade Association. The negotiations for the bilateral free trade agreement are set to resume during the third quarter of 2024.

Public demands lowering of ASF-driven pork prices

With strong calls from the province of Negros Oriental, the public demands government intervention to curb the rising prices of pork. They say prices have gone up to about PHP400 per kg. Amid the complaints, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has written Governor Manuel Sagarbarria to address the growing problem.

In her letter to Sagarbarria recently, DTI-Negros Oriental chief Nimfa Virtucio said the recent surge in livestock prices is a “pressing concern for both local producers and consumers.”

“This alarming trend not only poses challenges to the viability of our agricultural sector but also threatens the economic well-being of our residents. In particular those who rely on affordable meat products for their sustenance.” She said the DTI believes convening the multi-sectoral PPCC and the Task Force ASF could better address the problem.

2025 budget to focus more on livestock

Amid the ASF challenge and efforts to repopulate the pigs, Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. highlighted that the 2025 budget is going to strongly support the livestock industry at the expense of the commonly favoured staple crop, rice. Apart from pushing the production of rice, the country’s national staple, Sec. Tiu Laurel envisions a budget that will increase livestock, poultry, and high-value crop output, to meet the goal of modernising agriculture, increasing food production and ensuring food security.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) was given a budget of P197.84 billion this year, with P118.66 billion earmarked for rice-related initiatives. Of this budget, the DA has set aside P5.03 billion for high-value and other crops and P6.15 billion for livestock and poultry.

Reduction of rice-related budget

However, the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) has recommended a reduction of the rice-related budget and redistribute it to high-value and other crops and livestock and poultry. These contribute to agriculture output with 33.8% and 30%, respectively, which ise higher than rice’s 23% share. As highlighted by the Agriculture Secretary, the 2025 budget will uplift the livestock industry. This move would go a long way in supporting the country’s pig repopulation efforts.

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Matthew Wedzerai Correspondent
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