16 December 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney paid a courtesy visit to Philippine Agriculture Attaché to the Americas Dr. Josyline Javelosa on 15 December 2020 in appreciation of the strong bilateral relationship of the Philippines and the United States in food and agriculture.
The United States remains the Philippines’ number 1 partner in terms of total agricultural and food trade and the country’s top agriculture and food supplier. Meanwhile, the U.S. is the second largest destination of the Philippines’ food and agricultural exports in 2019.
Dr. Javelosa and Undersecretary McKinney briefly exchanged views on the recently concluded working group meeting on food and agriculture issues under the Philippines-United States Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) meeting held on 9 December 2020. TIFA meetings are conducted regularly to keep communication lines open and foster further understanding and deepening of the two countries trading relationship.
A highlight of the courtesy visit was the exchange of holiday gift baskets to share a “Taste of America” and a “Taste of the Philippines.”
Annually, the USDA hosts a holiday reception for colleagues and friends from embassies, international organizations, trade associations, and the U.S. government. But due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the USDA has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s holiday gathering.
Instead of hosting the traditional holiday reception, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service decided to share part of the United States’ agricultural bounty through a token selection of food and beverage in appreciation for the diplomatic corps’ engagement with the USDA to facilitate agricultural trade and global food security. Undersecretary McKinney offered to personally visit with a few friends at the Embassies to share its “Taste of America” gift basket.
Dr. Javelosa, who also serves as the Dean of an informal group of Washington Agriculture Diplomats, expressed appreciation for the Undersecretary’s kind gesture and also proudly offered a selection of available Philippine food and beverage products in the United States. The Philippine gift basket included “The New Filipino Kitchen Book,” a collaborative project of editor-author Jacqueline Chio-Lauri with the Embassy, to help raise awareness for Philippine cuisine, culture, and food ingredients through 30 stories and recipes around the globe, more than half of whom reside in the United States, including White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford.
The two agriculture officials exchanged thanks for the thoughtful and tasty presents and wished each other peace, health and joy this holiday season.