MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Challenges facing the feed industry and a memorandum of understanding between the US Grains Council (USGC) and Mariano Marcos State University focusing on biofuels best practices were among the highlights of a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) trade mission to the Philippines.

Daniel Whitley, administrator for the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), led the mission to the Philippines, July 18-21. He was joined by representatives from 29 US agribusinesses and farm organizations and 10 state departments of agriculture, seeking to strengthen trade relationships and further expand export opportunities.

The young and fast-growing population of the Philippines provides the potential for a boost in exports. US agricultural exports to the Philippines averaged $3.1 billion annually during the last five years. In 2021, US farm exports to the country hit a record $3.5 billion, increasing from $3.2 billion a year earlier. Recently, the USDA projected that the Philippines will purchase about $3.8 billion worth of American agricultural products this year, an increase of 8%.

“The primary goals were to produce mutually beneficial results to help expand trade, increase collaboration on key issues impacting agriculture in both our countries, and ultimately strengthen Philippine food security,” Whitley said.  

Among the issues focused on by the delegation were:

  • The challenges facing the feed sector, including volatile prices driven by weather, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, African swine fever, highly pathogenic avian influenza, and growing demand for biodiesel.
  • An MOU signing between the USGC and Mariano Marcos State University to facilitate the exchange of best practices related to the biofuels industry and policy development.
  • The launch of an Emerging Markets Program-funded African Swine Fever Project to control the spread of the disease along with training provided by the USDA to officials from the Philippine Department of Agriculture to improve veterinary services to ensure safe pork and pork products.
  • Seeking lower tariffs for food products, which would help ease the burden of inflation and allow for people to spend money in other sectors of the economy.
  • Helping the agency better understand the trade barriers US exporters face in the Philippine market, including dairy tariffs, product registration and expiration date labeling.
  • The strong partnership between the United States and Philippines, especially during these times of uncertainty and high inflation.

International trade missions are integral to the FAS’ international marketing efforts, offering US exporters a unique opportunity to build in-person relationships with potential buyers, learn first-hand about the market from industry and FAS trade experts, and ultimately generate sales for their businesses. 

Participants in the Philippines trade mission reported nearly $1 million in on-site sales and $7.25 million in projected 12-month sales.