Manila to tap US for fertilizer supply, vaccine devt

Manila and Washington are in talks for possible fertilizer access and modernization of the agriculture sector as well as vaccine development and manufacturing.

TREATY ALLIES. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) pays a courtesy call to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Malacañan Palace in Manila on August 6, 2022. Inset photo shows Blinken doing a fists bump with Danielle James, 6, after he received a COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic at the Manila Zoo. AFP

“We recognize the important role that the US can play in ensuring that developing countries like ours can have access to key commodities, including fertilizers,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said in a joint press briefing with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“We agree to continue our discussions Manila…on how we can cooperate on accessing fertilizers, lower prices for our farmers, as well as technology that will allow us to modernize and make agriculture in the Philippines more efficient, cost effective and climate smart,” Manalo said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last month said his administration is open to pursuing government-to-government deals to ensure ample fertilizer supply and address increasing food prices.

Manalo likewise urged the United States to invest in the country’s plan to develop its own vaccine industry.

“We hope the United States will extend its support to also facilitate investments in capacity building for our local vaccine development, manufacturing and distribution industry,” he said.

He thanked the US for giving the Philippines some 33.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which he said was the “largest we have received from a single country partner.”

“The Philippines is grateful for the substantial and critical support of the United States in our COVID-19 recovery efforts. The vaccines have saved millions of lives and supported our economy and health system,” Manalo said.

Blinken on Saturday led the ceremonial turnover of additional COVID-19 aid to the Philippines at the Manila Zoo where he was joined by US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, and Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna for a pediatric vaccination activity.

“These donations from the US government equate to a massive improvement in the country’s COVID-19 response.

Thank you, and the Filipinos will never forget your kindness and generosity, especially during these trying times,” Vergeire said.

Blinken said the US “seeks to work closely” with the Marcos administration.

“The US remains a top 3 trading partner for the Philippines. American firms are among the largest employers, the biggest tax payers and the highest value exporters here,” Blinken said.

“We want to expand those ties on private sector investments, on public-private partnerships and by working together to address leading challenges of the 21st century economy like shaping emerging technologies, strengthening our supply chains, and accelerating our transition to a green economy.”

“This is not about getting back to where we were before COVID-19, it’s about moving forward and transitioning all our economies to the needs and events and opportunities that are in the 21st century,” Blinken added.

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