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 17 Aug 2008

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Asean-Australia-New Zealand FTA negotiations:

Philippines to push for local dairy industry development

The Philippines is pushing the development of local dairy industry as its counter-offer to the 100 percent tariff cut on the same products asked by Australia and New Zealand under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand free trade agreement, reported a local daily.

Philippines Agriculture Undersecretary Segredo Serrano was quoted by Manila Bulletin as saying that his department has commissioned a technical study that would estimate how much these countries would compensate the Philippines in terms of development projects.

"We want something that will compensate us for the estimated loss in tariff revenue and the possible obliteration of a very important sector –the dairy industry. We can consider lowering the already low tariff but they should have no sensitive track," he noted.

Serrano said the development of the dairy industry will be based on the dairy zone concept that will diversify the livelihood of people in the rural areas.

He said the country has already done this with Japan when it asked for a project aimed to help develop parts of the sugar industry in exchange for tariff reduction in sugar.

The agriculture official expressed optimism that the proposed Asean-Australia-New Zealand FTA will be pushed through once this issue is addressed.

William James, principal economist of the Asian Development Bank, said that aside from lower tariffs, the Philippines will benefit from the FTA in terms of technological improvement and human capital.

"There is a lot of opportunities particularly for Filipinos to study in Australia and New Zealand universities which are of high quality. I think, getting technology from these countries in some of your sectors would be also a big advantage for you in maximizing the benefits of this FTA," he noted. The agreement is expected to be concluded this month and signing by yearend.































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