The Council Launches Inaugural Virtual Industry Mission to Engage Philippine Government on COVID-19 Response, Recovery and Food Security

(Manila) – From June 10 and June 22 to 25, the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) conducted its inaugural Virtual Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to the Philippines – the first virtual business mission in the Council’s history. The mission demonstrated the commitment of the U.S. business community in supporting the Philippine Government's COVID-19 response and recovery and to strengthening the country's food security. The Mission was co-led by Mr. Alexander Feldman, Chairman, President & CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council, Ambassador Michael W. Michalak, Senior Vice President & Regional Managing Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council, and Mr. Pushpanathan Sundram, Senior Advisor for Public Policy & Government Affairs, Asia at Elanco Animal Health and Chair of the Council’s Food and Agriculture Committee.

"This is our first virtual mission at the Council as part our wider efforts in adapting to the current COVID-19 environment. This inaugural virtual F&A mission to the Philippines will serve as a model for future engagements by leveraging digital solutions," said Amb. Michael Michalak. "COVID-19 has amplified the importance of food security. This mission embodies the strong collaboration needed to enhance collaboration between U.S. businesses and the Philippine Government to support food security goals. We are proud to be working with Secretary Dar on formalizing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Agriculture ensuring that these types of collaborations have a basis to continue."

“COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for the ASEAN countries and the food and agriculture sector is one of the most affected by the pandemic. However, we have been encouraged by the proactive and coordinated responses of the Philippine Government to manage the pandemic. They have acted timely and decisively to facilitate the flow of essential food and agricultural commodities, farm inputs and agricultural services thereby ensuring food security and food safety," said Mr. Pushpanathan Sundram. "The Philippines is in the early stages of its post pandemic recovery phase managing the public health concerns, economic recovery plans and the trade and supply chain continuity. In this regard, the U.S. business community as a dedicated partner stands ready to support a swift recovery of the Philippines' food and agriculture sector."

“The mission created crucial opportunities for the U.S. private sector to foster Public Private Partnerships in the Philippine agricultural sector,” said Mr. Alexander Feldman. “Our engagements with the Philippine Government promoted the role of international trade in protecting the Philippines and promoting food security. It further emphasized the importance of regulatory reform and supporting market access for smallholder farmers to improve the food resiliency of the Philippines. We hope to build on the momentum of cooperation created during the mission and look forward to working more closely with the Philippine Government ahead.”

The delegation met with Secretary William D. Dar and representatives from the Department of Agriculture on the morning of June 10. From June 22 to 25, the delegation met with representatives from the National Economic and Development Authority, the National Food Authority, the Food and Drug Administration, the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Department of Trade and Industry, the House of Representatives of the Philippines, and the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Companies participating in the Mission included Bayer, Cargill, Corteva Agriscience, Elanco Animal Health, PepsiCo and PMFTC.

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For over 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.