One arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the Philippines is delaying approval of imports of fresh U.S. vegetables while another sub-agency reports U.S. food and beverage exports to the island nation doubled from 2009-12, achieving President Obama’s export initiative two years ahead of schedule.
In its annual country report issued April 1, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative said it took Philippine officials five years — from 2006 to 2011 — to perform pest risk analyses for U.S. broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, cabbage and celery. A similar analysis on U.S. potatoes requested in 2009 was also completed in 2011.
“The United States is concerned with the length of time that it takes for the Philippines to complete PRAs (pest risk analyses) for fresh vegetables …” according to the trade report.
“As has been highlighted in previous years, foreign governments continue to impose discriminatory or otherwise unwarranted measures on U.S. exports in the guise of ensuring human, animal, or plant safety.”
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is reviewing the trade report and pest risk analyses from the Philippine government. USDA spokesman Brian Mabry said there is not a specific timetable for action.
About two weeks before the trade report was released, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service reported food and beverage exports to the Philippines had doubled from 2009 to 2012, which put the country two years ahead of the White House National Export Initiative deadline to double U.S. exports by 2014.
The March 14 FAS report included all foods and beverages, however, not just fresh produce. It showed fresh vegetable exports to the Philippines declined significantly in 2012 compared to 2011. The FAS reported $5.9 million in fresh vegetable exports to the Philippines. That dropped to $3.3 million in 2012.
The trade report said the Philippines allows only “a limited amount of these vegetables to enter the country, on a case-by-case basis, for ‘high-end markets,’ such as hotels, restaurants, and airline companies.”