ASEAN Committee in Madrid meets with Spanish Agriculture Minister

Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Ralf Roldan (far left) with the ASEAN Ambassadors in Madrid and Spanish Agriculture Minister Luis Planas (center)

The ASEAN Committee in Madrid (ACM) paid a courtesy call on the Spanish Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, the Hon. Luis Planas, in order to introduce themselves and discuss multilateral and bilateral interests with the Ministry.

The ACM includes the five ASEAN countries with resident missions in Madrid, namely, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Vietnamese Ambassador Ngo Tien Dung, in his capacity as ACM Chair, informed Minister Planas of ASEAN’s desire to increase trade links with Spain, particularly in the agri-food sectors. He highlighted ASEAN’s rapidly-growing economic significance, and its focus on enhancing the ease of doing business in the region through the ASEAN Single Window and promoting sustainable fisheries.

In response, Minister Planas mentioned Spain’s technical expertise in the field of agriculture, fisheries and food, saying that it is “a country with a powerful agro-food industry” with a clear export vocation, and offered their technical collaboration with ASEAN in these sectors. The Minister highlighted his agency’s willingness to share experiences and the Spanish government’s interest to strengthen and “intensify” agri-food trade exchanges with Southeast Asian countries. Minister Planas noted that Spanish agri-food and fishing exports to ASEAN countries have grown significantly in recent years, reaching almost 600 million euros in 2017.

To illustrate the importance that Spain attaches to Southeast Asia, Minister Planas informed the meeting that they had already opened their first Regional Ministry for Southeast Asia in 2016, with residence in Singapore and accreditation to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. He added that his Ministry is putting further resources into opening Agricultural Offices in Spanish foreign missions, separate from the Commercial Offices.

The individual ACM members then spoke on their specific bilateral matters of interest. The Philippine Embassy in Madrid, represented by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Ralf Roldan, informed the Minister of the Philippines’ desire to update the existing memorandum on agricultural cooperation between the Philippines and Spain, and proposed an incoming business and agricultural interest mission to the Philippines. The Ministry and the ACM both committed to maintain the relations they established in the meeting and to work for the completion of current projects.