RP  FIRMS  MUST  PREPARE  TO  BE  COMPETITIVE  NOW,  SAYS  YAP

MANILA,
MAY 29, 2009
(STAR) By Marianne V. Go - The Philippines must prepare to be competitive now instead of hoping for a further delay in the full implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap said yesterday.

Attempts have been made on an informal level to convince the members of the Association of South East Asian (ASEAN) neighbors to delay the full implementation of AFTA next year in light of the current global economic recession. Yap pointed out, however, that such talks are all informal and may not lead to any delay.

Meanwhile, Yap is urging local industries and the agricultural sector to become more competitive in the face of the twin threats of a liberalized trading order and climate change.

“AFTA is a commitment,” Yap said, and will most likely be met by the Philippines in spite of talks of a possible delay or postponement of its implementation next year.

“All talks are informal,” he pointed out.

Any concrete agreement to delay AFTA would have to be agreed upon in formal talks and negotiations.

With the remaining time left, there appears to be no move to initiate formal talks to delay AFTA.

As agreed under AFTA, the Philippines and its ASEAN partners must bring down to zero to five percent all tariff covers.

Philippine industries, including the agricultural sector, would then have to face competition from its ASEAN neighbors.

Unfortunately, several industries in the agriculture sector continue to claim that they are still not ready for competition.

According to Gregorio San Diego of the United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA), and Albert Lim of the National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc. (NFHFI), the poultry, egg and hog industries, as well as the rice sector, are still not ready for the full implementation of AFTA by January 2010.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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