News in Brief


Peso rate at P42.879

The peso reference rate remains at P42.879 to the U.S. dollar, the weighted average rate pegged at the Philippine Dealing System of the Bankers Association of the Philippines last Friday.

Canberra fruit offer studied

Agriculture Secretary Edgardo Angara said the government was studying a proposal by Canberra to hasten testing of Philippine fruit imports, a move which could open the way for pineapple and banana shipments to Australia. He told Reuters that Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile proposed to speed up testing procedures to pave the way for the entry of Philippine pineapples and bananas into Australia. "He (Vaile) sent me a letter and we are now studying that," Angara said in a telephone interview. "It's a positive development and we should be able to come to a decision by Monday." Under the proposal, Australia will do simultaneous risk analyses on Philippine pineapples and bananas in 24 months. Canberra had previously said it needed up to 26 months to do a risk analysis for the import of Philippine bananas and another 24 months for pineapples. Australia's quarantine rules have been a sticking point with the Philippines in its effort since 1996 to export these fruits. On Thursday, Manila announced it would reduce cattle imports from Australia by 20 percent this year to 202,425 head from last year's 253,032, in retaliation to what Manila considered were Canberra's efforts to block Philippine imports. The planned cut in cattle imports came just a week after it banned a major Australian supplier shipping to the Philippines.

Accord on food safety signed

The Department of Health (DOH), represented by the Undersecretary Dr. Milagros L. Fernandez of the Office for Public Health Services, recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Food Safety Institute Foundation, Inc. (FSIF), represented by its president Roberto Tiangco Reyes. The agreement was in response to President Estrada's call under Proclamation No. 160 for continuous training and education on food safety. The landmark agreement aims to enhance quality knowledge and skills of sanitation inspectors through the Comprehensive Food Safety Management Test Certification course. Initially, the following geographic areas with corresponding venues and tentative dates for year 2000 have been identified: Northern Luzon (Baguio) - July, Metro Manila (Manila) - July to August, Southern Luzon (Naga) - August, Visayas (Cebu) - September and Mindanao (Davao) - September to October. …

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