THE Philippines remains committed to an Asean-China agreement aimed at promoting food safety and plant and animal health standards, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

Specifically, officials earlier this week expressed support for the 2022-2023 Action Plan under a long-standing sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) cooperation deal between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the People's Republic of China.

"We reaffirm our commitment to the activities under the leadership of the Philippines and we look forward to a favorable consideration of the projects proposed for funding under the Asean-China Cooperation Fund," Agriculture Secretary William Dar said during a ministerial meeting last Monday.

Programs to be implemented under the plan include the establishment of an information notification and communication system; personnel exchanges; training, seminars, conferences and similar activities to narrow development gaps; collaborative research; and the establishment of a consultation mechanism.

The Philippines will focus on exchange visits to learn quarantine best practices for seaports and airports and training in effective harmonization of good laboratory practices. The country will also roll out animal disease diagnosis training programs as well as conduct collaborative research on plant pest detection.

"We believe that the projects will serve the purpose and interests of both China and the Asean, particularly in the diagnosis of infectious animal diseases, the detection of highly invasive plant pests, the improvement of border inspection and quarantine operations, and efficient harmonization with international standards and practices," Dar said.

The Agriculture chief noted that SPS cooperation would facilitate intra-regional trade. China has been Asean's largest trading partner since 2009, the Agriculture department said.

"The Philippines is of the view that this round of SPS cooperation should open even more opportunities for free, fair and mutually beneficial commerce between the nations of the Asean and China," Dar said.

He added the Philippines was confident that all action plans would be pursued and that each would be designed to minimize barriers to trade, lower trade-related regulatory costs and create greater market opportunities.