Government urged to change agricultural strategy
AGRICULTURE industry group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) has challenged the government to provide an in-depth assessment of the Philippines’ membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO), reiterating serious concerns about the involvement of the country in another treaty, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Recently, around 50 organizations of farmers, fishermen, workers, civil society and businesses unanimously opposed the ratification of the RCEP trade agreement, saying it had been finalized without consult agro-fishing stakeholders, who are directly concerned. One of these groups included Sinag.
In a statement Friday, Jayson Cainglet, executive director of Sinag, discussed the final annual results of the Philippines’ WTO membership over the past 27 years.
He noted that WTO supporters predicted an increase in annual agricultural export earnings for the Philippines of at least 3.4 billion pesos, an increase in annual gross value added from agriculture of 60 billion pesos. pesos and the creation of 500,000 additional jobs per year. The WTO was also aimed at balancing trade in agricultural products. However, Cainglet lamented that these things did not happen 27 years later.
Data from the Statistics Authority of the Philippines showed that the country’s agricultural trade has been declining on an annual basis for the past decades. Likewise, the proportion of the working population of people employed in agriculture fell to 22.9% in 2019 against 24.3% in 2018 and 25.4% in 2017.
Worse yet, the agricultural sector’s share of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell from 20.89% in 1997, at the start of the Philippines’ WTO accession, to just 10.18% in 2020.
“27 years later, why has there been such a contrast between the optimistic forecasts and the dismal results? After 27 years in the WTO, there is no promise of remarkable growth in a liberalized trade regime. , said Cainglet.
He added: “The WTO has made our country a net food importer, destroying our decades-old ability to produce our own food. The WTO has undermined our food security, much more our food sovereignty where we decide our own agriculture and food policy. “According to him, the promised market access for developing countries like the Philippines” has never been ” materialized, claiming that the WTO was intended to expand market opportunities for big players such as the United States and the European Union, and most recently China and other members of the Group of Eight (G8).
“As these experts got by with their huge salaries, the agricultural sector suffered. And now they are back,” said Cainglet, reiterating Sinag’s strong opposition to ratifying the RCEP.
Instead of pushing for RCEP, Sinag calls on the government to pursue a permanent change in agricultural strategy for sustainable and highly localized food production to meet the demands of staple foods, thus ensuring that more food is grown there. where it is needed.
“No country has ever developed without first developing its agricultural sector to produce basic commodities and necessary raw materials beyond what the country needs,” said Cainglet.