Business Groups Urge To Further Open The Philippine Agricultural Sector to Foreign Trade
Several business groups shared in a joint statement on Monday, May 24, that the Philippine agricultural sector should become more open to foreign trade to ensure a stable and affordable supply of goods for Filipinos.
The group noted that increasing foreign trade within Philippine agriculture would help keep food more affordable and safe. It would also strengthen the capability of providing more jobs for the rural population.
The groups consist of seven large business organizations, namely, the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Cold Chain Association of the Philippines, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Fisheries and Aquaculture Board, Foundation for Economic Freedom, Meat Importers and Traders Association, and the Philippine Association of Flour Millers.
The group shared their statement after conflicts over lower import duties on some commodities. Recently, President Rodrigo Duterte lowered the tariff on imported rice shortly after reducing duties on imported pork.
While the orders aim to arrest the high prices of pork and prevent a possible shortage of rice, farmers, and hog raisers, many groups and lawmakers disagree with the government’s latest decision.
The group argues that a more open agricultural sector will help attain stronger growth and food security in the Philippines. It also dampens food price inflations and provides enough food to Filipinos during shortages in local food supplies.
The groups stated, “Predictable imports encourage investments in downstream industries to diversify and grow in situations where local agricultural inputs are inadequate for their requirements. The competition local producers face from imported products has the potential of introducing innovations in local agriculture, needed for stronger and competitive growth.”
Furthermore, foreign investments in the country’s agricultural sector will intensify and diversify farm production and introduce technologies that would enhance competitiveness in the local industry.