Duterte eyes pact with Myanmar on food security, agriculture
NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar – The Philippine government may sign a memorandum of understanding with Myanmar on food security and agricultural cooperation on the second day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s first visit to the country.
This is part of what Duterte hopes to achieve during his two-day visit here, Philippine Ambassador to Myanmar Alex Chua said in an interview on Friday in Yangon, which was aired by the Presidential Broadcast Staff Radio-Television Malacañang.
Meanwhile, shortly after arriving here Sunday evening, Duterte will meet with members of the Filipino community in the country.
The Philippines’ major imports from Myanmar are agricultural products, while the Philippines’ top exports to Myanmar are medicaments for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, Chua said.
The agreement may cover cooperation for planting of hybrid rice on an initial 14,000 hectares in Myanmar using Philippine technology, according to Henry Lim Bon Liong, chief executive officer of SL Agritech Corp.(SLAC), a Philippine hybrid rice seed firm.
Lim is part of Duterte’s private sector delegation to Myanmar.
“Hopefully Kuya Rody – that’s how we call him in our Go Negosyo group – will be able to set foot on a hybrid rice field soon and ensure that we won’t need to import rice,” Lim said in a statement.
The pilot planting in Myanmar will be a joint venture with private companies Nine Seas and Water Stone, Lim said.
Meanwhile, Chua said he expects Duterte’s bilateral talks on Monday with President Htin Kyaw, Myanmar’s first civilian chief executive in five decades, to “include talks on improving trade and investment relations.”
Duterte will also meet with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to “discuss regional cooperation;” and Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, armed forces commander-in-chief, to “explore deepening of bilateral defense cooperation,” Chua added.
Joining Duterte in his Myanmar are acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director Deneral Isidro Lapeña, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, and Senator Vicente Sotto III.
Myanmar is the on Southeast Asian country Duterte has not yet visited.
The Philippines is this year’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations chair, as the region celebrates the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Asean. /atm