From L to R: SEIPI President Dr. Dan Lachica; Ms. Lisa Go, DOE Chief Science Research Specialist; IBPAP President and CEO Jack Madrid; Mr. John van Adrichem, CFO of Van der Knaap Group of Companies; Mr.  Erwin van Deijnen, Supply Chain Manager of Van der Knaap; Mr. Jelte Veenstra, Director of Coco Sustrates of Van der Knaap; DTI Secretary Fred Pascual; DTI Undersecretary Kim B. Lokin; PTIC-Brussels Commercial Counsellor and Director Magnolia Misola-Ashley; BOI Executive Director Evariste Cagatan; BOI Director Lanie Dormiendo and DOE Asst. Sec. Mylene Capongcol

NETHERLANDS – On 29 June 2023, the Philippine delegation, led by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual, expressed business interest in setting up a pilot factory for coco peats in the country during their visit to the Research and Development (R&D) Center of the Van Der Knaap. The DTI Chief underscored that the Philippines has the largest area devoted to coconut farms and the second largest coconut producer in the world.

Secretary Pascual said, “The Philippines is strategically located and our natural geographic resources are amongst the competitive advantages we can offer, particularly to investments in the agricultural area. Agriculture remains one of the key priorities of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. as we aim to modernize and innovate agricultural processes in the country.”

Van der Knaap Group is a Dutch family business that has been active for more than 40 years in the supply of substrates and growing mediums to the worldwide professional horticulture. The company is widely known in processing cocopeat, a substrate raw material that is made from coconut husks.

During the visit, Secretary Pascual also noted that aside from the huge domestic market of the Philippines, its market also extends to more than 600 million people through the country’s Free

Trade Agreements (FTAs). In particular, the FTA with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, which provides the Philippines duty-free market access to all industrial and fisheries products to the member states.

Further, the DTI Chief also emphasized that tariff concessions were also secured to all the Philippine agriculture exports to EFTA. Hence, he advised the company to register all-qualified manufacturing activities, including agro-processing under Tier 1 of the 2020 Investment Priority Plan (IPP), which can also be upgraded to Tier 2 or 3 of the Strategic IPP, depending on the production that they will establish.

Secretary Pascual further highlighted that in June 2021, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) launched its the Coconut Farmers’ Industry Roadmap (COCOFIRM) 2021- 2040, which identifies seven strategies to achieve the goal of creating a globally competitive coconut industry. Offering the possibility of a partnership between Van der Knaap and the PCA, he expressed optimism in seeing the Dutch company’s investment in the country, which will not only drive strong business for them, but also provide high-quality and better-paying jobs for Filipinos. 

“I look forward to our joint commitment in working towards the development of the coconut industry. With our huge resources in this area, I believe that we can unlock unrealized potentials that can help both countries in achieving agricultural sustainability,” Secretary Pascual added.

Also present were DTI Undersecretary for Communications Kim Lokin; Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Mylene C. Capongcol; Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Brussels, overseeing The Netherlands, Commercial Counselor Magnolia M. Ashley; Board of Investments Executive Director Evariste M. Cagatan and Director Lanie Dormiendo. *

Date of release: 30 June 2023