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In a move welcomed by ICOS, the EU has agreed to start free trade talks with the Philippines.

The islands that make up the Philippines have a consumer population of over 100 million people and have been one of the region’s fastest growing economies in recent years.

The first round of negotiations is expected to take place in the first half of 2016 in the Philippines.

According to the Philippine National Dairy Association (NDA), at present the Philippine dairy sector is in the region of 97% foreign company dependent, with Australia and New Zealand dominating this demand. The NDA estimate that in this teeming country that there are only 22,000 dairy cows.

Irish co-ops have been making strides in recent years to establish themselves in the demand growth markets of South East Asia. This work has been augmented by both the Department of Foreign Affairs and Bord Bia beefing up their presence in the region. At present the Philippines is serviced from the Irish Embassy in Singapore.

The Trade division of the EU has also been making progress in recent times in the region with deals so far with Singapore in 2014, as well as Vietnam in 2015. Significant progress has also been made in the Korea and Japan trade negotiations also, and ICOS will continue to work closely to ensure that Irish Cooperative dairy is represented and exposed to opportunities with these deals.

By Conor Mulvihill

European Affairs Executive