PH, Cambodia agree to explore increased rice supply cooperation, more tourism tie ups

MANILA — The Philippines is looking at Cambodia for the supply of rice as it builds its inventory amid the current El Nino phenomenon that may impact local palay production.

During a bilateral meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet on the sidelines of the 50th ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said the Philippines wants to engage Cambodia in trade in agriculture, specifically rice.

“Some MOUs that have lapsed… we really need to look back and engage with in terms of trade in agriculture, rice specifically. When I visited you in Cambodia last time, that subject that we were talking about. We were preparing for this drought. It’s now happening,” Marcos told Prime Minister Hun Manet.

“It caught our attention. We really should look into it. Something that is necessary now. That’s the lesson learned from pandemic. We really have to be flexible in looking to our suppliers,” he said.

He also told the Cambodian leader about the improving palay production in the Philippines. The country, however, still needs to import to secure its rice inventory and one area to explore and strengthen is to improve its ties with other rice-producing countries like Cambodia.

The two leaders also tackled connectivity during the bilateral meeting particularly to boost their tourism industries as well as trade and investment.

For his part, Hun said he likes to have follow up discussions on connectivity and increasing the number of tourists from Cambodia to the Philippines and vice versa.

“We now have flights, five times, Cambodia to NAIA, possibility to increasing destination… Cambodia to Cebu,” Hun told President Marcos, adding Cambodia has just opened an airport in Siem Reap and will be opening another one in Phnom Penh next year.

Marcos told his counterpart that the Philippine government has contracted a group to modernize and improve the efficiency of the Manila airport, which has been neglected for years.

The government is also developing other regional airports closer to tourist spots to encourage tourists to come to the Philippines.

“We are also encouraging flights to regional airports. I think that is what we keep hearing, low hanging fruit. I’m sure Filipinos will be interested. I count myself. I am interested to go in… travel in Cambodia,” the President said.

“We have done little yet to explore. I fully agree. That’s for two countries, an advantage for us. I’m very much open for that. We will try to see, when I get back, which regional airports are ready to take international tourists and visitors. And I will be glad if we could increase the volume of exchange… tourism, travelers, and even business,” President Marcos said. (PND)

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