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Nur Aisha Abd. Wahab


The Manila Times



PH, Indonesia to fix agri trade gap

The Manila Times (04/04/2019) - The Indonesian government has agreed to ease restrictions on agricultural exports of the Philippines to help address the widening trade deficit between the two countries.

In a recent bilateral meeting, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol engaged Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita in talks aiming to boost the two nations’ economic relations.

As a result, Indonesia has agreed to adopt the “Philippines First Policy” to prioritize products coming from the Philippines before sourcing supplies from other countries, Piñol said.

“[Indonesian] Trade Minister [Enggartiasto] Lukita announced a new policy which will be adopted by Indonesia and they call it ‘Philippines First Policy’. They have recognized us as their distant cousins and they said that starting now, if there’s anything they need, they would look at the Philippines first as the priority source before other countries,” Piñol said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Indonesia exports to the Philippines as much as $1 billion worth of agricultural products annually while the latter exports to the former only $50 million worth of food products. The Philippines has long been negotiating with Indonesia to correct the trade imbalance represented by a $950-million deficit.

“I think they realized that they really have to work with us. They saw that if we start shoving each other in trade and closing our doors to trading with our neighboring country, it could actually have an adverse effect not only on our diplomatic relationships but also [on] our trade relationships,” Piñol said.

The Agriculture department is already consolidating various agricultural products for immediate export to the Indonesian market, including shallots/onions and bananas, Piñol said.

Meanwhile, Piñol revealed the recently-formed technical working group composed of representatives from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines will come up with a “rational plan” next week to keep the Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil exports at levels in a such a way it will not hurt the coconut and local palm oil industry in the Philippines.

“Next week, the technical working group will meet and [they] will lay down the foundations of that tripartite agreement among Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines,” he said.

“We’re trying to come up with a program that will rationalize our palm oil program that will not disadvantage the Philippines due to flooding of their palm oil [here]. At the same time, we have agreed that we will have to help one another in promoting palm oil [so that] we can also protect our coconut farmers,” Piñol added.

Over the last three years, palm oil exports by Indonesia and Malaysia have increased by 100 percent. In 2017, total exports of this commodity increased by 92.4 percent to 262 million kilos from 20 million kilos in 2015.

Read more at https://www.manilatimes.net/ph-indonesia-to-fix-agri-trade-gap/535049/