Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator Daniel Whitley led a USDA trade mission to the Philippines in mid-July. He was joined by representatives from 29 U.S. agribusinesses and farm organizations and 10 state departments of agriculture, working together to strengthen trade relationships and further expand export opportunities.
“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.
Whitley and the delegation focused on:
- The strong partnership between the U.S. and Philippines, especially during times of uncertainty and high inflation.
- 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.
- 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.
- Helping the agency better understand the trade barriers U.S. exporters face in the Philippine market, including dairy tariffs, product registration, and expiration date labeling.
- An MOU signing between U.S. Grains Council and the Mariano Marcos State University to facilitate the exchange of best practices related to the biofuels industry and policy development.
The challenges facing the feed sector including volatile prices driven by weather, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ASF, highly pathogenic avian influenza, and growing demand for biodiesel.
“There's one word that I walked away with from this mission – reliability. We're in a very different world than we were in six months ago, and certainly five years ago. The number one criterion that I see everywhere I go to is trading partners looking for a reliable supplier,” Whitley said. “Consumers abroad view American agriculture to be the most reliable in the world. Our outstanding quality and our efforts to embrace the challenge to produce commodities that are more sustainable ensure Filipino consumers want our world-class ag and food products. We were excited to introduce all our talented suppliers and exporters to some of the world's finest buyers in the Philippines.”
The young and fast-growing population of the Philippines provides the potential for a boost in exports. U.S. agricultural exports to the Philippines averaged $3.1 billion annually during the last five years. In 2021, U.S. farm exports to the country hit a record $3.5 billion, increasing from $3.2 billion a year earlier. Recently, USDA projected that the Philippines will purchase about $3.8 billion worth of American agricultural products this year, an increase of 8%.
International trade missions are integral to FAS’s international marketing efforts, offering U.S. 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 as a result of their travel.