The Philippines’ government has announced its decision to accept imports of fresh table-stock potatoes from the US, The Grower reports.

The decision follows four years of lobbying by US potato groups. US Potato Board and National Potato Council representatives welcomed the policy change in a media release on 12 July.

This release also recognised the Philippines’ status as the fastest growing economy in Asia during the first quarter of 2013, with gross domestic product growth of 7.8 per cent.

Philippines is home to almost 100m residents, making this a lucrative opportunity for the US potato industry.

The US Potato Board’s international marketing manager, Sarah Reece, highlighted the need for growers and shippers to make contact with importers in the Philippines to begin expanding their business.

The US has enjoyed long-standing access to the Philippines for exports of fresh chipping potatoes, which have grown steadily over the past five years to exceed 5,600 tonnes, valued at US$2.8m.

US exports of frozen potato products generated a substantial US$38m in 2012.

According to the National Potato Council’s chief executive John Keeling, the US Department of Agriculture’s funds for technical assistance for special crops played a fundamental role in the Philippine government’s decision, as it had enabled the industry to host a delegation of Philippine officials during their tour of potato operations in the US.