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The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Thailand has become the latest to sign to the region-wide private sector-led agriculture-MSME Development plan initiated in the Philippines. Thailand’s signing brings to near-completion the consensus among the ASEAN BACs of nine ASEAN-member states to bring together agriculture companies from the private sector to conduct possible joint business ventures and increase trade and investment within the region.
“This is an absolute win for the ASEAN, for its MSMEs, and for agriculture and food security in the region,” said Joey Concepcion, chairman of ABAC Philippines. “Successful ventures made possible by the region-wide partnerships can result in the agriculture sector’s development by involving more players across the value chain, especially farmers and fisherfolk,” he explained.
The signing was held during the 99th ASEAN BAC Council Meeting last January 29, 2024 at Luang Prabang in Lao PDR. It was led by Concepcion and Kobsak Duangdee, ABAC Thailand Chair, and witnessed by the ABAC Council chairs from the ASEAN countries. The areas of collaboration with Thailand cover rice, banana, vegetables, and palm oil.
ABAC Philippines initiated the project with each ASEAN member-state, starting with Malaysia, which signed its MOU last July. This was followed by the ABACs of Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore, Laos, Myanmar, and Indonesia, who all signed last September in time to coincide with the ASEAN Business Investment Summit, with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet as witnesses.
The MOUs covered the exploration of joint partnerships in knowledge and technology development; trade and investment opportunities; research and development; and strategies in sustainable agriculture, among others. The agri-MSME development partnerships are patterned after Go Negosyo’s Kapatid Angat Lahat sa Agri Program (KALAP) which aims to integrate small farmers into the value chain of large agri companies, also called “big-brother companies” under the KALAP program. Concepcion is also the founder of Go Negosyo.
During the meetings in Laos, it was also decided that the Philippines should chair the technical working group on Food Security of ASEAN BAC in 2024.
An initial trade mission has been tentatively scheduled this April 23 and 24, coinciding with the 100th ABAC meeting on April 25 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to facilitate engagement between key industry players from the Philippines and Malaysia, as part of the MOU implementation. The objective is to explore collaborative opportunities and exchange best practices in sectors including oil palm, rubber, rice, dairy, poultry, pineapples, durian, banana, coconut, and corn, and generate mutual commercial benefits for both parties. Following suit, other ASEAN BAC member countries who have endorsed the MOU will also embark on similar trade missions.