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22/10/2009: U.S. Agri Chief, American Businessmen Visiting Manila for Trade and Investment Mission

Secretary Tom Vilsack of the United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA) is arriving in Manila this weekend with top executives of 20 US agribusiness companies for a four-day mission geared to further strengthen trade and investment ties between the two countries in such fields as fisheries, biofuels, livestock, poultry and dairy production.

Highlighting the Philippine trip of the US Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission are separate meetings of this top-level delegation with President Arroyo and Cabinet executives led by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap along with officials of almost 200 local companies and of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Yap said the itinerary of the Vilsack-led mission includes a business forum at the Shangri-La Hotel in  Makati City ; agricultural briefings, laboratory tours and a palay harvesting activity at the IRRI headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna; a milk and biscuit distribution in a public elementary school as well as a tour of a private flour mill.

According to the USDA, this mission’s goal is “to promote trade and investment, particularly in the fisheries, biofuels, processed goods, beverages, meat and poultry, dairy products, agricultural machineries and equipment sectors.”

“Participating U.S. companies will have the opportunity to form partnerships and joint ventures with Philippine companies,” added the USDA in a report.

Manila-Washington trade in agricultural products went up 23..22% to $971,676,804 last year from $787,931,812 in 2007. (based on BAS data)

The agribusiness companies represented in the US mission are the Agri-Ima GIS Technology, American Trading Services, LLC, Cargill, Inc, EcoVative Resources, , Garuda International, Hima International, Intervision Foods, Kraft Foods, Land O’Lakes, Novick Industries Ltd., The Alan Group, US Fed Group, Valmont Industries, Inc., and Verdant Ocean, Inc.

On Sunday, Vilsack’s group will go to IRRI with US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney along with Yap and other Department of Agriculture (DA) officials, among them Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano; Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat; Assistant Secretary Preceles Manzo; Director Ronilo Beronio of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice); and Marriz Agbon, president of the Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corporation (PADCC).

The IRRI activities include presentations by Yap on the global rice stockpile station; by IRRI director-general Dr. Robert Ziegler on the institute’s agenda and goals; by Beronio on PhilRice activities; and by Gil Villancio, who is project leader of the Integrated R and D program on Jatropha curcas for biodiesel.

These presentations will be followed by tours of IRRI’s International Rice Genebank, GAMMA Laboratory and plant growth facilities, and capped by a palay harvesting participated in by Ambassador Kenney, Secretary Vilsack, Dr. Zeigler, Dir Beronio and  Secretary Yap.

Vilsack’s group and Kenney will go to Malacañang on Monday to meet with President Arroyo, Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, Yap and other DA officials; and then proceed to the Shangri-La Hotel for the business forum.

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Press Release from Department of Agriculture