Taiwan is sending its agriculture experts to the Philippines to demonstrate the benefits of its rice variety, which could be propagated in the country, as well as Taiwanese know-how and technology to make rice farming more productive.
“We are sending a four-member delegation to Baguio, Tagaytay and Cebu to demonstrate our rice-farming technology,” said Taiwan Economic Cooperation (Teco) Representative Michael Peiyung Hsu.
Speaking at the sidelines of the Republic of Taiwan (ROC) National Day celebration last Tuesday, Hsu said Taiwan “has so much advance technology, that’s why we have to demonstrate and see how Filipinos will be benefited by our know-how.”
“Our per-hectare production is twice or three times more than the Philippines’s and the price is very reasonable. We donated 7,000 kilograms to the victims of Typhoon Ompong in Cagayan province,” he added.
According to Hsu, Taiwanese rice tastes “much better” compared to those produced by other countries. Taiwan also has surplus rice, as it produces more than what it requires.
He added that the Philippines can now import rice from Taiwan after President Duterte ordered government officials to buy more rice to ease inflation, which surged to 6.7 percent in September.
Manila Economic Cooperation Office (Meco) Chairman Angelito Banayo agrees with Hsu, adding that Taiwan’s rice variety is similar to the expensive Japanese rice.
“It is short grain, a bit sticky and fragrant,” Banayo said, noting that the Taiwanese rice is on a par with that sold by the National Food Authority (NFA). “But the NFA will not buy it for the poor.”
“Inferior rice is prohibited to be sold in Taipei,” he added.
Banayo, who is also a former NFA administrator, said that whenever the Philippines is confronted with a rice-supply problem, Teco officials told him that Manila can avail itself of Taiwan rice.
But the “One-China” policy to which the Philippines hews makes it difficult for Manila to resort to government-to-government importation of rice from Taiwan.
“Now that private entities can import rice, maybe we can now avail those that Taiwan has to offer,” Banayo said.
“Since President Dutere said anyone can import [rice], maybe many restaurants could import from Taiwan because the Japanese variety, which is round and sticky and appropriate only for real sushi, is very expensive,” he added.
While Taiwan rice is more expensive than those from Vietnam, Banayo said it is cheaper than Japanese rice.
‘Reciprocity’Hsu also urged the Philippine government to reciprocate Taiwan’s gesture of implementing a visa-free policy for Filipinos.
He said he was informed that Meco could not adopt the same policy because the money earned from visa is used to pay the salaries of Meco officials and employees, aside from other expenses and operations.
However, Hsu said the Philippines could probably find ways to provide visa exemption to Taiwanese nationals, like diplomats and other visa holders.
“We could find ways for some sort of reciprocity. They have to do the assessment first, I think they’re doing it now,” he said.
Hsu said a vise-free program would promote two-way tourism between the Philippines and Taiwan, and allow the “unimpeded” entry of Taiwanese businessmen and investors.
“So far 167,000 tourists from Taiwan with electronic visa, visa-free or landed visa, have visited the Philippines,” he said.
Banayo said Meco finds it difficult to reciprocate Taipei’s visa-free policy “because we are bound by the ‘One-China’ policy, and giving the Taiwanese free visa would violate [this].” He noted that Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand do not reciprocate Taiwan’s visa-free policy, but he said the Philippines charges the lowest fee among Asean member-countries.
Banayo said the Philippines has offices in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung. Meco alone, he said, has 55 officials and employees.
by: Recto Mercene, October 11, 2018
Source: Business Mirror
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