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Vietnam, Philippines ink five cooperation deals

By Truc Dao

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HCMC – Five cooperation documents were signed between Vietnamese and Philippine ministries following talks between Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong and visiting Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. this morning, January 30.

The agreements include a memorandum of understanding on prevention and management of incidents in the East Sea, a bilateral agreement on rice trade between the agriculture ministries, a cultural and artistic cooperation document for the 2024-2029 period, and a memorandum on maritime cooperation between the Vietnam Coast Guard and the Philippine Coast Guard.

The five-year memorandum of understanding on rice trade cooperation is seen as particularly meaningful for both nations.

According to Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr., the Philippine Minister of Agriculture, Vietnamese rice accounts for 85% of rice imports of the Philippines.

He made this statement during a meeting with Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade on January 29. Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. is accompanying Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who arrived in Vietnam for a state visit on the same day.

The Philippines, primarily an agricultural nation, has been facing persistent shortfalls in domestic rice production, necessitating annual imports of 2.5-3.5 million tons to meet consumption and reserve needs.

Vietnam is the largest rice exporter to the Philippines, with around 45% of its rice exports bound for the Philippines.

However, the trade relationship goes beyond rice, with Vietnam currently exporting over 35 product categories to the Philippines, including agricultural and aquatic products, confectionery, animal feed, cement, steel, construction materials, textiles, machinery, and equipment.

In 2022, Vietnam exported over 3.2 million tons of rice valued at nearly US$1.5 billion to the Philippines. Although 2023 saw a slight decrease in volume, Vietnam retained control, accounting for over 80% of the Philippines’ rice imports, with a total export value of US$1.75 billion.

Despite the Philippines being a rice-producing nation, domestic production consistently falls short of annual consumption. With a consumption need of around 14.5 million tons, the country imports 2.5-3.5 million tons annually.

Beyond rice trade, Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien urged the Philippines to open its market to Vietnamese fruits and livestock products.

With a population of 113 million and gross domestic product of US$400 billion, the Philippines remains a major market for Vietnamese exports. Vietnam is among the top 10 trading partners of the Philippines, with a trade surplus of US$2.5 billion last year.

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