THE Philippine government said on Tuesday it is now currently working out a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on agriculture with Cambodia.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) said in a statement that it is forming a technical working group (TWG) that will study and tresh out the details of the MOU with Cambodias Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the TWG is the first step on the DAs part to facilitate the MOU, which would promote technical cooperation and information exchange in food and agriculture. The MOU is expected to be signed within the year.
“Creating more robust alliances with our counterparts in Cambodia and other Southeast Asian neighbors is high on the DAs agenda, as it is both timely and necessary toward achieving national food security and inclusive socioeconomic progress in an era of an integrated Asean community,” Alcala said.
“After all, agriculture remains a key pillar of Philippine economy, as in much of Southeast Asia,” he added.
The Asean economic integration, which would be fully carried out by year-end, is projected to offer opportunities for increased agri-fishery trade and investments. The Asean is a market of over 600 million consumers with a combined gross domestic product of nearly $3 trillion according to official statistics.
Alcala said it is the “DAs job to provide and facilitate the needed resources, policies and linkages to turn these bright prospects into reality.”
He said his recent meeting with his Cambodian counterpart, Minister Ouk Rabun, allowed both of them to reaffirm their shared commitment to push for closer relations.
Alcala also reiterated the DAs invitation to Rabun to take part in the 37th gathering of Asean Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in Manila from September 7 to 12.
Held annually, this years AMAF meeting is expected to take stock of developments about the preparation of Asean members for the regional economic integration in terms of enhanced food security and trade.
Climate change and other pressing issues, as well the need to come up with strategies for stronger partnerships with dialogue partners, international organizations and private sectors, are also expected to be discussed.
While in Phnom Penh, Alcala also met with members of the Filipino community from the Cambodian capital and nearby areas, which provided him the opportunity to invite them to invest in agri-fishery ventures back home.