The European Free Trade Association (EFTA), composed of member economies Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland, concluded its 5th round of negotiations with the Philippines earlier this month. Prior to the negotiations, the DTI conducted eight consultations on a possible PHL-EFTA free trade agreement (FTA).
Usec. Rodolfo said that, with the nearing conclusion of the FTA negotiations, the government is developing a work program that will encourage and promote utilization of the free trade agreement so Philippine industries and sectors will be able to benefit from the opportunities and potential of the PH-EFTA FTA.
In 2014, the top Philippine exports to the EFTA Member States include gold in semi-manufactured forms, digital monolithic integrated circuits, aircraft parts, printed circuits, artificial teeth, and silver. On the other hand, Philippine imports from EFTA include medicaments, diagnostic or laboratory reagents, parts of airplanes or helicopters and wrist-watches.
A 29-man delegation, composed of companies in the fields of manufacturing and services industries, was in the Philippines for a four-day mission to explore investment opportunities. The mission was organized by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).
At the recent launching of the bamboo showcase project of the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council in Pasay City, Cristobal said that the Philippines has made significant contributions in generating foreign exchange, rural employment, and revenue from the sale of bamboo and its by-products in both domestic and foreign markets.
Philippine merchandise exports declined by 5.6 percent in 2015 compared to 2014. The decline in merchandise exports last year was reflective of the overall export downtrend in neighboring ASEAN countries as well as the bigger regional market in Asia.
The government is aligning its efforts in implementing the following strategies to grow exports this year and next year:
- design comprehensive packages of support for selected sectors;
- remove unnecessary regulatory impediments to the movement of goods and delivery of services;
- raise the productivity and competitiveness of Philippine enterprises; and
- upgrade the quality and standards of export.
BOI invited government agencies to a Forum dubbed “Mainstreaming IB in Government Policies” to generate their insights and recommendations on the proposal to integrate inclusive business (IB) in government policies.
IBs are innovative models where companies engage the poor and low-income communities as partners, customers, suppliers, and employees in their supply chains not out of charity, but because it makes good business sense. The integration of these communities into global value chains improves their quality of lives and makes for better business with diversified supply and distribution systems
PHL exports to the European Union (EU), under the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (EU-GSP+), increased by 27%.
Under the EU-GSP+, the Philippines can export 6,274 eligible products duty-free access to the EU market. Prior to December 2014, the Philippines was covered by the regular EU-GSP which provides zero duty to only 2,442 products and reduced tariffs for 3,767 products. The Philippines was granted beneficiary country status under the EU-GSP+ in December 2014.
To date, there are already 40 sectoral roadmaps submitted to the BOI. Of the 40, 32 roadmaps have been completed and are currently being implemented or for implementation, while the rest are still subject to enhancement/finalization.