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US vows wider access for Philippine bananas

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American officials assured the Philippine government of more banana imports following the ongoing sanctions against Iran which drastically affected Filipino banana farmers, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Friday.

In an interview in Malacanang on Friday, the President told reporters that among his discussions with visiting US legislators were the impact of the recent Iran sanction to the Philippine banana industry.

The President said 30 percent of the country’s total banana exports go to Iran.

“Pag nagkaroon ng mga financial transactions na pinahirapan ang Iran apektado kaagad tayo. So ipinarating natin itong view point na ito sa American congressional delegation at pinangakuan tayong tutulungan tayo doon para may access na dagdag raw sa Amerika para hindi mahirapan ang ating mga kapatid na nasa pagtatanim ng saging,” the President said.

The President met earlier this week with US Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Sheldon Whitehouse and Kelly Ayotte in Malacanang. McCain, Lieberman and Ayotte are all members of the US Senate Armed Services Committee.

Aside from banana imports, the US and the Philippines also agreed for a stronger military cooperation following the visit of the four American senators.

In a media briefing also this week, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the American senators told Filipino officials about the increased American military involvement in the Asia-Pacific region. This will also mean more military exercises with the American allies in Asia-Pacific area including the Philippines.

Lacierda clarified, however, that the US is not establishing any bases in the Philippines.

Lacierda said the Philippines also asked for a second Hamilton class cutter, a request that the US senators vowed to support. The first Hamilton class cutter arrived in the Philippines last August. It is now commissioned by the Philippine Navy to protect the country’s waters.

Prior to the visit of McCain’s group this week, President Aquino also met with several members of the US House of Representatives who also arrived in the country. The visiting US congressmen commended the reform agenda of the Aquino government.

By PCOO/PIA9-ZBST




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