March 2, 2024

The Department of Agriculture has signed a cooperation agreement with Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) for the promotion of sustainable rice trade cooperation.

In a news release, the DA reported Sec. Francisco Tiu-Laurel, Jr. and MIT Minister Nguyen Hong Dien have signed a memorandum of understanding, creating a framework for rice trade cooperation that is sustainable and meets the common interests of the Philippines and Vietnam.

Vietnam commits to supply the Philippines with 1.5 to 2 million metric tons of white rice annually under the MOU.

The DA and the MIT will also pursue other cooperation activities, such as exchange of information on rice production, crop situation, import, and export needs, for five years.

They will also cooperate to ensure that rice from Vietnam complies with food safety and plant health requirements of the Philippines.

Tiu-Laurel said they have agreed to close coordination to address illegal rice trade and consult with each other in advance of any imposition of export measures that could hinder or delay exportations.

“While DA is focused on improving capacities for increased agricultural productivity, it is equally imperative to maintain a robust trade to help ensure food security, in particular, the supply of rice, especially in challenging times,” he said.

“Vietnam is an important trading partner of the Philippines in agricultural commodities. It is, in fact, our third largest trading partner in the ASEAN region in terms of overall value of agricultural trade.”

Around 80 percent of the country’s rice imports are from Vietnam while the Philippine market accounts for over 40 percent of Vietnam’s rice exports.

The DA also formalized the agreement on cooperation in the field of agriculture with the MARD.

Tiu-Laurel and MARD Minister Le Minh Hoan have agreed to further strengthen existing bilateral relations in agriculture and update the previous cooperation agreement signed in 1999.

The new MOU will promote and intensify mutual support between the Philippines and Vietnam in areas covering high value crops, livestock (including dairy), and aquaculture production and development; post-harvest facilities and food processing; digital and climate-smart agriculture; and agri-fisheries mechanization.

“The Philippines puts high importance to its bilateral relations with Vietnam in the field of agriculture, and it considers Viet Nam a key partner in the effort to transform the agriculture sector of the Philippines as well,” Tiu-Laurel said during his bilateral meeting with Hoan.

Both agreements were signed during the state visit of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to Hanoi, Vietnam on Jan. 29 to 30.

The exchange of bilateral documents was witnessed by Marcos and Vietnam President Vo Van Thuong. – PNA