Philippines eyes more agriculture investments

Catherine Talavera – The Philippine Star

November 29, 2021 | 12:00am


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is seeking more foreign investments in agriculture, particularly on modern technologies that will aid the growth of the sector.

“We have yet to see more private sector investments. Of course the government has to put in more budgetary resources to show that there is also money in agriculture,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said at the Philippine Economic Briefing with the Foreign Chambers of Commerce on Friday.

“The department continues to invite and encourage foreign chambers of commerce to further invest in the Philippine agriculture sector,”he said.

Among the potential areas of investment identified by Dar include sustainable water technologies for irrigation, green house technology, and smart agriculture for nutrient use, pest management, and climate adaptation.

In addition, Dar cited aquaculture and fish farming technologies, as well as dairy, livestock, and poultry farming solutions and biosecurity, as other areas for investments.

In terms of commodities, those which are in need for more investments include abaca, coconut, mango, seaweeds, shrimp, cacao, and coffee, according to Dar.

Dar said the Philippine agriculture sector has the potential to attract investments given its big growing middle class market, favorable policy environment, and large pool of capable human resources.

He also cited the country’s abundant land and fishery resources, as well as the availability of local raw materials for agro-processing as among other factors that may attract more investments.

In addition, Dar emphasized the country’s strategic location, saying it is an entry point to the ASEAN markets and eventually Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) markets, once signed.

“Through the RCEP, our agribusinesses and investors would have better access to 28 percent of the world’s trade, 30 percent of world’s GDP, 24 percent to world inward foreign direct investment (FDI), 34 percent of outward FDI and 2.2 billion population,”Dar said.

“So this agreement provides more stability, and credit stability to our businesses and investors, especially amidst the uncertainty of the growing protectionism worldwide,”Dar said.

The RCEP is a multilateral trade agreement between and among ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. It provides for an open, inclusive, and rules-based trading system to promote deeper economic integration in the region.

Agriculture stakeholders earlier posed their objection to the ratification of the RCEP, saying they were not consulted on its impact on the agriculture sector.

“We have not seen any clear and consistent basis for classifying agricultural tariff lines in the country’s schedule of tariff concessions. Joining RCEP now means that 75 percent of our 1,718 agricultural tariff lines will be set at zero,” the agriculture groups said in a joint position paper.

“About 15 percent of tariff lines will be subjected to tariff reduction, while nine percent will be exempted from any tariff change. A more detailed breakdown and evaluation of our obligations are necessary to ensure that no mistakes have been made, and that sufficient policy space remains to protect sensitive commodities,”they said.

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