By Dale Q De Vera, News5
(NOVEMBER 7, 2019) WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Philippines is seeking wider access for its farm products, like okra, to the larger United States market, the country’s top trading partner, a Philippine embassy official to Washington said on Thursday.
Speaking to a group of visiting Filipino journalists, agricultural attaché to the U.S. Josyline Javelosa said policies on trade and business activities between Washington and Manila have been enhanced with government-to-government outreach.
Javelosa said the Philippines is pushing for better market access for more Filipino agricultural products.
She said after getting a green light for exports of products like mangoes, bananas, and young coconuts, the Philippines now has several pending requests with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Javelosa said okra exports to the U.S. is among those included in the pending request of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Manila.
“This will go through a long process; like for bananas and mangoes, it took several years… but we should be ready so when it is opened up, then we have the supply to export to the U.S.,” Javelosa said.
With Thailand losing its eligibility in a U.S. trade preference program under the general system of preference (GSP) for products including okra, fresh produce from the Philippines may benefit from it.
Aside from requests for a wider market access, Javelosa said the DA is also seeking USDA’s approval to waive the pre-inspection requirement for mangoes.
She said, they are “trying to do away with the pre-waiver inspection for mangoes because it entails more costs, making our mango less competitive especially compared from the mangoes coming from the nearby Mexico.”
Along with these, an expansion in the points of entry for Philippine pineapples has also been requested to the U.S.
At present, exported Philippine pineapples are only allowed to enter the U.S. through Guam, Northern Marianas land, and the North Atlantic region.
“Hopefully we could improve the exports of Philippine products to the US,” she said.
Figures from the U.S. Trade Representative showed the U.S. remains the top single country market for Philippine food and agricultural products reaching atleast $1.1 billion in 2018.
While the Philippines remains at being the 11th-largest agricultural export market of the U.S. with an aggregate value of $3 billion last year.
The Philippines, Javelosa said, has also asked the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to facilitate information sessions for Philippine exporters who received refusals after seafood and food establishment inspections to allow corrective actions to be implemented. (MM)