Beyond Buzzwords: Transforming Philippine Agriculture!

Phl, Korea forge partnership to further boost fishery exports

Author: DA Communications Group | 28 May 2022

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar and Deputy Director Soo-jin Cho, with Assistant Director Chan-hwei Lee of the Imported Food Inspection Management under the Korea Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) met on May 27, 2022 to complete the plans for the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on Food Safety of Philippine Exports to Korea.

Secretary Dar underscored the importance of the MRA meeting as it will build better relationship between the two countries and usher in increased exports of Philippine seafood and fisheries products while ensuring food safety for the Korean consumers.

The MRA will also facilitate digitalization and efficient export document submission through the implementation of e-health certification of fresh and processed fishery products from the Philippines bound for Korea, said Maria Aleli Maghirang, agriculture attache to Korea.

The Korean mission also visited Cebu and General Santos to inspect the operations and food safety compliance of three Filipino agri-fishery processing business firms, namely: Siargao Bounty Seafood Corp.; Philippine Union Frozen Fish Inc.; and MK Smoked Fish Corporation. They are leading exporters of Philippine octopus, abalone, and smoked fish to Korea.

On December 20, 2021, the Philippine Agriculture Office (PAO) in Seoul facilitated and finalized the signing of the Special MRA between MFDS and the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) that will be finally executed on June 20, 2022.

According to MFDS, among the nine countries they have an MRA, the Philippines is to date the fastest to implement after six months of finalization. The country will be also the first among the fisheries trading partners of MFDS to adapt the e-certification system, said Dr. Cho.

The Philippines enjoys a favorable balance of trade with Korea, despite some production and logistical challenges during the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, registering a surplus of more than US$ 288 million (M) last year, Secretary Dar said.

In 2021, the Philippines exported US$526 M worth of various farm and fishery products, which is 20 percent (%) higher than in 2020, said Maghirang. Of the total, fishery products amounted to US$ 29.5 M last year, majority of which are high-value products like octopus, abalone, black tiger prawns, sea cucumber, and smoked tuna.

Secretary Dar also expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the MFDS for donating a pesticide analytical equipment, through another Korea ODA project, to enhance the capability of the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to further boost exports of fresh Philippine fruits to Korea. He also requested MFDS Director Cho for a similar intervention, and continued support technical assistance to the DA-BFAR to improve and modernize its laboratory equipment that will pave the way to more exports of fishery products to Korea. ### (Dale Russeth Gabanes, DA-StratComms)

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