October 11, 2011
The Philippine Embassy in Beijing reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that Senator Francis Pangilinan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, has stressed the need for closer partnerships to increase bilateral trade in agriculture, and technology cooperation for poverty alleviation between the Philippines and China.
During his seven-day visit to Beijing and Shandong province in China last week, Senator Pangilinan met with the Vice-Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC), the Ministry of Agriculture, and the State Council’s Leading Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development.
The Senator emphasized the importance of agricultural production and food security for the Philippines, given that agriculture contributes 18 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and this rises to more than 40 percent if agri-business is factored in. He also stressed that 34 percent of the population is employed in agriculture, and this figure rises to about 66 percent if one were to include all employees involved in all types of agriculture activities.
Senator Pangilinan and his delegation met with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, one of China’s oldest Ministries, established immediately after the People’s Republic of China was born and received a briefing on China’s reforms in agriculture, progress in agricultural production and agricultural modernization, and the current status of farmers in China.
In his meeting with Chief Economist Chen Mengshan of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Senator acknowledged how important and strategic a strong partnership with China would be for the Philippines in view of China’s leadership in agriculture. He said that the 2008 food crisis was a wake-up call for the Philippines which prompted the government to re-think policies in agriculture.
Accompanied by Embassy Chargé d’affaires a.i. Alex Chua and Antipolo City Mayor Danilo Leyble, Senator Pangilinan met with Mme. Wang Zhizhen, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC and Vice Chairman of the Chinese Association for International Understanding, at the Great Hall of the People
In his meeting with Vice Chairman Wang Zhizhen, the Senator stated that the Philippines is “interested to look at the science behind China’s success”. He observed that science has been an important component in China’s goal to expand agricultural production and raise farmers’ incomes.
Referring to the recently concluded visit to China of President Benigno S. Aquino III, Senator Pangilinan expressed his hope that China will look at increasing agricultural trade as a significant component of the overall trade volume, as both sides seek to double the bilateral trade volume to US$60 billion in five years.
He said he is heartened by the fact that his visit, as the first high level visit of the Philippines to China after the President’s State Visit, is about seeking partnerships in agriculture, a welcome sign of the priority which both sides accord to the sector.
In the formal banquet hosted by Mme. Wang for the Senator, both sides exchanged information on the current status of Philippine production of major commodities like coconut and rice. They also discussed the seafood industry in both countries, with Mme. Wang extolling the quality of Philippine seafood.
Senator Pangilinan informed the Chinese side of the importance the government attaches to value adding to expand the seafood industry sector, and the challenges in technology and capital requirements it has yet to address.
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