Philippines and Argentina may further strengthen relationship by engaging in a comprehensive agricultural cooperation, said Argentinean Ambassador to Manila Roberto Bosch.
He said the two states have agreed to sign a general memorandum of understanding on cooperation where they could enter into all kinds of partnerships including agriculture.
Specific agreements have yet to be undertaken. "The secretary of agriculture was in Argentina last year and he got some very good ideas of what he can do in our bilateral cooperations," he said on the sidelines of the Latin American Book Fair in Makati Monday night.
Bosch believes that with the Philippine Agriculture Secretary's upcoming visit to Buenos Aires by end of this year, areas of cooperation in agriculture will be fully explored.
“Secretary of agriculture and secretary of trade will be going to Buenos Aires so it’s another opportunity for them to have some bilateral meetings, to meet with some companies and to see how we can continue working," he said, noting the two officials' participation in the World Trade Organization’s Eleventh Ministerial Conference to be chaired by Minister Susana Malcorra of Argentina in Dec. 2017.
“What we're trying to do in terms of cooperation is to offer the Philippines our expertise in agriculture," he said.
"As we are mostly an agriculture exporting and producing country, we can develop a lot of technologies."
Bosch pointed out that they are in a position to effect a technological transfer to the country, more so in the sectors of organic farming and trade production.
He stressed that trade and bilateral ties of the two countries have yet to flourish due to its distance between each other but its economies are certainly "complementary".
“We produce and export a lot of food and the Philippines import a lot of food. The Philippines also produce and export a lot of intermediate manufacturing goods that we import, I think that trade should be stronger than it is,” he said.
Bosch said export from Argentina for 2017 is "a little bit lower" than last year due to its economic and productive situation. However, export of the Philippines to Argentina is continuously growing.
“They have grown, even in small percentage, they have been growing in the last five to six years. I think it will continue growing because Argentina's industry is starting to recover, there will be more opportunities for trade between the two countries,” he said.
The envoy has not cited specific figures but noted that trade between the two states varies between USD400 million to USD700 million depending on the year. "For this year, it would be around 600 million dollars," he said.
In the interview, Bosch bared that relations between the two states is "good but not very strong," given the distance and respective nationals' lack of knowledge on the other country.
To address the latter, Bosch said the idea of the book fair was to basically create knowledge on the two nations' "societies".
"We both cover this Spanish colonial past and we both have similar historical experiences. We both suffered from dictatorship and we worked a lot to regain democracy, so we have strong shared values," he said.
He underscored that Manila and Buenos Aires are the same in being "democratic and peaceful" countries. "From that, we can build a good relationship," he said.