The Philippines’ agriculture and fisheries sector is well-positioned for the economic integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but it should increase the volume of primary products for exports, state-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies said.
PIDS said in a policy note the Philippines should work harder to increase the volume of export-oriented products.
The study cited coffee, cocoa, tuna, seaweed, shrimp and onions, adding Philippine sardines had one of the lowest prices in the world.
“At least for the country’s export-oriented sectors such as mangoes, bananas, and pineapples, the Philippines is ready for Asean integration,” PIDS said.
While some industries claim they are not yet ready for Asean economic integration, PIDS said the sector was well-positioned for the Asean Economic Community.
“The A&F sector, particularly in terms of the commodities mentioned above, is well-positioned for the AEC. The key to realize larger and more diverse market opportunities of regional integration is to facilitate the movement of economic resources previously in displaced import-competing industries to export-oriented industries and to make more effective those that are already in export-oriented industries,” PIDS said.
PIDS, however, said despite the government funding billions of pesos to support the agriculture and fisheries sector, the spending should be made more effective by allocating it to general services, research and development and extension programs.
“Industry or worse firm-specific support should be generally avoided,” the policy note said.
PIDS said a public program that encourages product diversification in the sector could maximize the country’s potential benefits from economic integration.
It also said aside from increasing the quantity of products, the quality should be improved to be more competitive in the region.
“This can be done through the application of good production practices, such as good agricultural practices and good manufacturing practices,” PIDS said.
“Improving the quality of the Philippines’ products also requires further investment in human capital development to upgrade skills,” it added.
The policy note said the government should address the state of the country’s infrastructure.
“Poor infrastructure adversely affects the price, reliability, and quality of goods,” it said.
It said the three key areas of intervention where the government could channel infrastructure investments were in transport, electricity and irrigation.