MAKATI – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez pushed for continuing the European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preference Plus (EU-GSP+) for the Philippines (PH) and discussed existing and possible partnerships with Ambassador Saskia de Lang, the new Netherlands Ambassador to PH.

In a meeting last 4 March, Sec. Lopez thanked the European Union for extending the GSP+ privileges and cited its benefits for the people in the countryside. “The GSP+ is a major boon for farmers and fisherfolk since the majority of the country’s exports to the EU are higher-value processed agricultural products like canned tuna, coconut oil, cream, and milk. We are also working to export more products like chocolate from local cacao,” said the Trade Secretary.

Andre Driessen, Director for International Enterprise Department of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared that Dutch technology can help PH agriculture, water systems, and the Manila Bay rehabilitation project.

Sec. Lopez cited the opportune timing of the cooperation with the recently-passed Rice Tariffication law. Under the law, an annual Rice Fund of Php 10 billion will be allotted for machines, seedlings, trainings, and farm financing to local farmers.

Local rice production still accounts for 95% of the rice supply in the country. Through farm support from the Rice Tariffication law, hopefully, we can bring that up to 97%. Technology has to set in for us to increase farm productivity,” Sec. Lopez told Driessen and the Dutch ambassador.

Driessen also offered their expertise in water technology for water usage, marine construction, and wastewater treatment, among others. PH and the Netherlands are already formulating the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan through an agreement between the National Economic Development Authority and the Dutch Embassy in the Philippines. The plan is envisioned as a guide for future projects and programs in the Manila Bay Area.♦

Date of Release: 13 March 2019