The country’s dwindling pork supply may get a shot in the arm with the help of Colombia.
The South American country has offered to supply pork and beef to the Philippines and sought the government’s assistance to make this happen. Colombia’s interest to venture into meat trade with the country was relayed by its new ambassador to the Philippines Marcela Ordoñez Fernandez during a meeting with President Duterte in Malacañang Wednesday.
“Let me focus now on our bilateral relation and start with commerce. The amount of goods that our two countries exchange has been growing and we wanted to grow a lot more,” she said in her remarks at the Palace.
“We are interested in selling pork meat and beef to the Philippines and we would welcome, Mr. President, any support you can give us to accelerate the admissibility process,” she added.
The latest offer from Colombia came as the government moves to boost the country’s supply of pork and stabilize market prices.
Pork prices have recently gone up after local hog production was affected by the onslaught of African swine fever. Among the government’s steps to address the situation are the imposition of a 60-day price ceiling on pork and chicken products sold in Metro Manila, increased hog shipment from Visayas and Mindanao to Luzon, and possibly more pork imports.
Tourism cooperation, ‘orange economy’
Apart from meat trading, Colombia is interested in boosting cooperative ties with the Philippines on tourism, education, defense and security.
“We also want to see an increase in foreign investment both ways as both your economy and my economy have a lot of potential,” the ambassador said.
Fernandez informed Duterte that Colombia also wants “more tourism,” citing the influx of Colombians to the Philippines.
“More and more Colombians are visiting the Philippines and we believe that Colombia has everything that the Filipinos love,” she said.
“We have the culture, we have the music, we have the dance and this brings me to all the exchanges that we hope to have between our countries,” she added.
Colombia is likewise keen on enhancing the “orange economy” with the Philippines.
“The orange economy or creative industries is a very important one, and both our countries strive in this,” the ambassador said.
Best practices on reintegration, education
The envoy also said Coloma is “not a country to teach lessons to other counties” but is willing to share best practices on the reintegration of former combatants.
The four-stage program includes institutional strengthening, route to reintegration, community approach and monitoring and evaluation.
“Our two countries have already exchanged talks and best practices on this, but this is something where we believe we could work a lot more,” she said.
“And another one is — is the centers that we have created for the youth to go after school and do sports and engage in culture and also in technology instead of getting into trouble in the streets,” she added.
Colombia is also keen on learning from the Philippines, particularly its breakthroughs in education.
“We want the best practices of the Philippines in education,” Fernandez said. She said they have also started offering Spanish classes for diplomats of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Colombia also wants to enhance security cooperation with the Philippines especially in the fight against corruption.
“We believe security is a public good and we are ready to work on it as we are in the fight against terrorism,” the ambassador said. She noted that with the Colombian Presidency of the Pacific Alliance, they hope to strengthen the ties with the Philippines and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Allow me simply to end, Mr. President, by insisting that we look forward to the opening of the Embassy of the Philippines in Colombia because we want to have the Philippines permanently in our capitol,” the ambassador said.