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Sunday, 2 March 2008

UAE to help Philippines grow its halal food export

DUBAI — Manila will be sending marine-biology specialists to the UAE to inspect the country's mangroves while Abu Dhabi will help the Philippines develop its halal food and agricultural exports to the UAE which grew 39 per cent to Dh73.5 million ($20 million) last year.
These are some of the salient points of the proposed areas of co-operation being considered by both countries, according to Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, who left for New York on Friday after a three-day visit to Dubai.
During his visit Yap met with UAE Minister of Environment and Water Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, who said the UAE would help the Philippines improve its halal exports through food accreditation and capital grants.
This according to Gil B Herico, trade representative at the Philippine Trade and Investment Centre — Dubai, who yesterday said that Minister Fahad noted that the Philippines, being free from the dreaded bird flu, would be a good source for halal chicken.
Herico said the mangrove specialists from the Philippines would work closely with the Mangrove Scientific and Research Institute, in Umm Al Qaiwain, on how to manage well the UAE's breeding grounds for fish species.
"They will first make an ocular inspection of the mangroves here, then study these and draw up recommendations on how to protect and develop them further," he said. "Later on there will be an exchange of experts and delegations between the two countries to strengthen co-operation in various fields."
He added that the areas of co-operation between the UAE and the Philippines are in the Proposed Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on Agricultural and Fisheries Co-operation that the two parties will sign in Manila no later than May.
Meanwhile, Yap said that His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is considering the invitation to visit the Philippines which was extended by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her two-day Dubai visit in late-January.
Also yesterday, Herico said that Manila had closed for this year a total of Dh1.1 billion ($299 million) in purchase agreements for Philippine bananas and pineapples with various importers in the six-member Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) bloc, Iran and Iraq.
He stressed that 60 per cent of the total purchases came from Iranian importers, who are even willing to buy more if the Philippines could provide such. With a population of 74 million, Iran brought down its tariff on Philippine bananas and pineapples to four per cent from 25 per cent two years ago.
He added that Dh44.1 million ($12 million) worth of business deals, Dh18.4 million ($5 million) of which were booked orders, had been facilitated by the Philippine national pavilion at the recently concluded Gulfood Exhibition, in Dubai, between Filipino producers and importers in the Middle East, Africa and Iran.
He said the deals, Dh25.7 million ($7 million) of which are still under negotiations, involved Philippine processed food and agricultural products, such as Filipino delicacies, desiccated coconut, coconut milk and fresh fruits and vegetables.Herico said he is confident that Philippine exports to the UAE involving food and agricultural products would hit at least 40 per cent this year on growing awareness among Emirati businesses about high-quality Filipino products and the increasing number of Filipino workers here.--(KT)

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