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PH to appeal against Papua New Guinea's ban on offshore tuna processing.

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte will ask Papua New Guinea to reconsider a possible directive that would disallow the processing in the Philippines of tuna sourced from the latter's seas.

This is seen to be part of the upcoming bilateral discussion between President Rodrigo Duterte and Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O'Neill at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vietnam.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said in an ambush interview during the Karne, Isda Supply Suporta sa Masa at Ekonomiya (KISS ME) launch that he would accompany Mr. Duterte during the bilateral talks, during which the President aims to convince the Prime Minister on a fishing and farming compromise.

'The local tuna stakeholders are requesting that they be allowed to process even half of the volume of tuna they get in Papua New Guinea in the Philippines. In relation to that, we will be forming an agricultural cooperation with them,' he said.

As a compromise, the Philippines is willing to give technical support to farmers of Papua New Guinea, which imports 100 percent of its rice requirement.

'Papua New Guinea has long been asking us to help them produce more rice for their country. Despite their large land area, their country lacks the technology. This is an opportunity for us,' he added.

'The idea is to bring in Filipino investors to invest in the rice industry of Papua New Guinea,' said Pinol. 'The moment we satisfy their local demands, we can bring in to Philippines the rice produced by our Filipino investors in Papua New Guinea back to the Philippines. It will be outsourcing.'

The Agriculture chief also sees the possible importation of rice from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines as a long-term objective, given the country's population growing at a rapid pace.

'There may come a time in the life of this nation that we would be needing more areas for rice farming, and Papua New Guinea is a country of about 49 million hectares with only seven million population,' he said.

At present, the Philippines has an access agreement with Papua New Guinea that allows the former to fish in the latter's Waters. Pinol estimated that about 40 percent of the canned tuna industry's production come from Papua New Guinea.

The agreement, however, is negotiated on an annual basis.

Philippine ambassador to Papua New Guinea Bienvenido Tejano said in an interview that the Philippines is also also helping the country develop its fishing industries.

'Many of our fishing companies are doing their fishing in Papua New Guinea today,' he said.

Tejano is confident on the discussions given the many similarities of these two countries. Both Papua New Guinea and the Philippines are English-speaking countries with similar customs, he added.

Currently, there are about 35,000 Filipinos in Papua New Guinea, most of whom are working as professionals.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Nov 9, 2017
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