Delegates pose with the officials of the Department of Agriculture and Palawan LGUs during the 20th meeting of the Joint Committee on ASEAN Cooperation in Agriculture and Forest Products Promotion Scheme held at Hotel Centro, Puerto Princesa City on July 10-12, 2013. With them are: (seated from left) DA 4-B RTD Yvonne G. Viñas,(5th) DA-AMAS Director Leandro H. Gazmin (6th), PPC Vice-Mayor Luis Marcaida III (7th), and Engr. Teresita Guian, Prov'l Agriculturis (2nd far right).

Puerto Princesa City, Palawan - The Philippine government through the united effort of the Department of Agriculture Central Office and DA Region 4-B (MIMAROPA) hosted the 20th Joint Committee meeting of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) member countries on July 10-12, 2013 at Hotel Centro, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. The meeting aimed to strengthen further the existing cooperation of the 10 member countries in promoting Agriculture and Forest Products in the ASEAN region. 

Seven out of 10 ASEAN member countries have participated, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the host country Philippines, while Brunei, Myanmar and Singapore were not able to send any representatives to the meeting.
During the opening program, Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) Director Leandro H. Gazmin gave his opening remarks. He said that when Myanmar signified that they cannot host the meeting, the Philippines decided to accept the offer of the ASEAN Secretariat to take over because of its commitment to the Joint Committee to achieve its goal. "Hopefully, we can explore activities that will strengthen trade promotion and negotiation of the 11 commodities not only in the ASEAN market but also in the international arena. We hope to see a strong partnership between and among ASEAN countries towards strengthening the agricultural export performance of these 11 commodities" Gazmin said. 

DA RFU 4-B Regional Technical Director and designated OIC-RED Yvonne G. Viñas delivered the message of Secretary Proceso J. Alcala who was not able to attend because of prior commitments he had. In the part of the LGU, Puerto Princesa City Vice-Mayor Luis Marcaida III welcomes the delegates in behalf of Mayor Lucito R. Bayron, while Governor Jose C. Alvarez was represented by Engr. Teresita Guian, the Provincial Agriculturist of Palawan. 

The plenary session started with the election of new committee chairman among the heads of delegation. It was unanimously agreed and approved Dir. Gazmin as the committee chair of the 20th ASEAN joint committee meeting. This was followed by the adoption of agenda and ASEAN community roadmap (2009-2015).

The whole duration of the meeting is too hectic for the delegates. Several topics were tackled comprising the status report of the different agricultural products of the lead countries. Among those products are Carrageenan and other seaweeds, Cocoa, Coconut, Coffee, Forest products (timber and non-timber), Palm Oil, Peas and Beans, Pepper, Tapioca, Tea and Tuna.
A status report of the products was also presented by the lead countries including the emerging issues identified by the industry clubs. After the status presentation and thorough deliberation, the body adopts the report. 

On the last day, DA Assistant Secretary Romeo S. Recide closed the three-day meeting. He thanked the foreign and local delegates for the support extended to the success of the meeting. "We look forward to continue collaboration with the member state and strengthened partnership with private sector to ensure the trade promotion in the international market", Reside added.
The host country also able to show the culture and traditions of the Filipinos through the nightly cultural presentation from the provincial and city tourism dance troupe that delighted the participants.

ATTY. CIPRIANO G. SANTIAGO, CESO III
Regional Executive Director

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