By Roy Mabasa
The Philippines has informed the Spanish government of its desire to update the existing memorandum on agricultural cooperation between Manila and Madrid to further strengthen trade cooperation between the two countries.
Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Ralf Roldan conveyed this message during a recent courtesy call by members of the ASEAN Committee in Madrid (ACM) on Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food Luis Planas in the Spanish capital.
During the call, Roldan proposed to the Spanish official the possible sending of a business and agricultural interest mission to the Philippines prior to the updating and review of the agreement which was inked during the Arroyo administration back in 2007.
Roldan and the rest of the ACM also discussed multilateral and bilateral interests with the Spanish agriculture minister.
Citing Spain’s technical expertise in the field of agriculture, fisheries, and food, Minister Planas offered possible technical collaboration with ASEAN.
“Spain is a country with a powerful agro-food industry with a clear export vocation,” Planas told the ASEAN representatives in Madrid.
The Spanish minister also highlighted his agency’s willingness to share experiences and his government’s interest to strengthen and intensify agri-food trade exchanges with Southeast Asian countries.
According to Planas, Spanish agri-food and fishing exports to ASEAN countries have grown significantly in recent years, reaching almost 600 million euros in 2017.
To illustrate the importance that Spain attaches to Southeast Asia, Planas informed the meeting that they had already opened their first Regional Ministry for Southeast Asia in 2016, with residence in Singapore and accreditation to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Furthermore, he said his Ministry is putting more resources into opening agricultural offices in various Spanish foreign missions, separate from the commercial offices.
The ACM includes the five ASEAN countries with resident missions in Madrid, namely, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.