NEWS IN BRIEF; P/$ Rate Closed at P54.575 to $1

Article excerpt

The peso rate closed at P54.575 to the US dollar last Friday at the Philippine Dealing System of the Bankers Association of the Philippines. The weighted average rate stands at P54.641.

Weak agri to dampen GDP

Weaker output from the farm sector due to drought and slower demand for electronics exports are expected to dampen Philippine economic growth this year, a quarterly Reuters poll showed. High oil prices and taxes may also cut into consumer demand, but remittances from overseas Filipino workers may cushion the impact of an increase in inflation on spending, economists said. The median forecast of 10 economists was for the economy to grow 4.8 percent in 2005 and 4.5 percent in 2006, slowing from 6.1 percent in 2004 a 15-year high. The forecast for 2005 was slightly weaker than in a poll in January, when growth was estimated at 5.0 percent, and below the governments target for GDP growth of 5.3 to 6.3 percent. "Growth is going to be fairly soft going through most of the year," said Nicholas Bibby, associate director and strategist at Barclays Capital in Singapore. "Weve got the impact from the higher oil prices especially. Agriculture hasnt been doing that well, weaker export growth is also feeding through, and then also youre going to have some kind of higher taxes, so certainly growth is going to be softer." Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri has said signs from the agriculture sector were not encouraging, with rice and corn planting in the first quarter delayed by the lack of rain.

RP bucks Mexico mango move

The Philippines will oppose any move from Mexico to get Manila Mango as a geographical indication. "Consumers are led to believe that Manila mangoes come from the Philippines. This is essentially unfair competition," says Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Director General Adrian S. Cristobal. "Our intellectual property rights are protected under Article 22 of the TRIPS Agreement as a member of the World Trade Organization, and this includes goods that originate in our country," adds Director General Cristobal. Article 22 of the Trade Related Aspects on Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which provides for the protection of geographical indications, states that members can prevent the use of any means in the designation or presentation of a good that indicates or suggests that the good in question originates in a geographical area other than the true place of origin in a manner which misleads the public as to the geographical origin of the good. Geographical indications are defined by TRIPS as goods originating in the territory of a Member where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. Manila mangoes are grown in Mexicos Veracruz state, but the seedlings are said to have come from the Philippines during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade.

IRRI shifts away from chemicals

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is seeking solutions to rice growing practices contributing to environmental degradation by developing ecology-based non-chemical approaches to pests and developing rice varieties with multiple resistance to pests and diseases. IRRIs putting up its IRRI environmental council (IEA) is prompted by the threat on the irreversible loss of biological diversity. It is estimated that depending on habitat destruction, loss of species in the world will reach to 14 to 30 percent over the next 20 years or up to 60,000 plant species by 2025 due to genetic erosion. Rice plant species, placed at 140,000 worldwide, has been declining at an alarming rate particularly after high yielding rice varieties, dependent on intensive fertilizer, has been introduced in the 1960s. Rice fields are habitat to species like fish, amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans, mollusks, and insects. …