PASAY CITY—As part of the government’s objective to strengthen its economic relations with external partners, the Philippines (PH) recently (10 September 2017) discussed with Australia (AU) and New Zealand (NZ) bilateral trade issues to bring the Philippine relations with these two countries into a more strategic direction.
At the sidelines of the PH hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, who also serves as the 2017 AEM chairperson, convened separate bilateral meetings with Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment Steven Ciobo, as well as with New Zealand Member of Parliament Chester Borrows.
|PH Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez convened a bilateral meeting with Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment Steven Ciobo at the sidelines of the PH hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings.|
Sec. Lopez and Minister Ciobo discussed bilateral trade issues to enable PH to increase its exports to AU. In particular, Sec. Lopez raised the anti-dumping duty imposed on PH canned pineapples and resealable can end closures, as well as inquired as to AU’s processes to facilitate the entry of PH bananas to AU. Minister Ciobo reassured the DTI head of AU’s full cooperation with regard to the anti-dumping issues. He also expounded on AU’s quarantine procedures.
The Australian Minister highlighted that Australian businesses are looking into investing in PH, given the improved business environment in the country. However, Minister Ciobo also raised the issue on the 60-40 foreign equity participation, to which Sec. Lopez remarked, “The government is trying to revise and repeal the relevant laws to enable increased investments to the country”.
PH also expressed its appreciation for all the assistance extended, in particular, those provided by the AU-led Aid for Trade initiative, as well as the scholarships granted to Filipino students through the Australia Awards.
Noting that AU is PH’s 16th major trading partner in 2016, with total trade valued at USD 1.38 billion, the DTI chief underscored that PH is open to doing more business missions ,which will provide an avenue for business in PH and AU to cite opportunities, as well as increase trade between both countries.
Meanwhile, Sec. Lopez also met with NZ Member of Parliament Chester Borrows same day.
The trade chief and the parliamentarian discussed how PH can look to NZ as an example for initiatives to improve the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) in PH, noting that NZ ranks 1st for EODB.
|PH Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez (3rd from L) and other PH trade officials convened a bilateral meeting with New Zealand’s Member of Parliament Chester Borrows (3rd from R) and other New Zealand officials at the sidelines of the PH hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings.|
PH also shared that various government agencies, in particular the DTI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bureau of Internal Revenue have already streamlined procedures to facilitate businesses, and that other relevant government agencies are in the processes of improving their current systems.
“Key effort now is further streamlining and integration of the information system of the various agencies to cut the entire registration process into less than one hour once automated,” highlighted Sec. Lopez, adding the proposal to conduct more workshops/process studies with regard to EODB with NZ’s support.♦