DTI-EMB orients Chinoy biz leaders on preferential trading arrangements
August 30, 2016
THE Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) conducted a Doing Business in Free Trade Areas (DBFTA) information session for the executive directors of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) on August 2 at the Federation Center in Manila.
Assistant Director Agnes Perpetua R. Legaspi presented to the officers of FFCCCII the tariff savings that business people can enjoy when they export to countries where the Philippines has free-trade agreements (FTAs) and also to countries which grant Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP). The elimination or reduction of tariffs under these preferential trading arrangements makes Philippine products more price-competitive. As more than half of Philippine exports are with FTA partners and GSP donor countries, exporters are encouraged to make use of these preferential arrangements to expand their shares in these markets.
At present, aside from its FTA with the nine member-states of Asean, the Philippines is a signatory to Asean FTA with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. It also has a bilateral agreement with Japan and recently signed an FTA with the European Free Trade Association (Efta), composed of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which is still undergoing ratification.
The Philippines also enjoys preferential tariffs for certain goods under the GSP granted by donor countries, which include the European Union (EU) and the United States. In December 2014 the EU included the Philippines in its GSP+ scheme, which grants zero tariffs to 6,274 products. Last year the US reinstated its GSP, which eliminated duties on about 5,000 products coming from the Philippines.
Legaspi also alerted FFCCCII to prepare for market openings to be brought about by other FTAs currently being negotiated by the Philippines, like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or RCEP, which is with Asean and its six partner economies (China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand) and the Philippines-EU FTA.
Aside from the DBFTA, Legaspi also presented the various activities of EMB to assist exporters in export documentation, business matching, handling of export trade complaints, and inbound and outbound business mission. She also discussed the several capacity-building programs for exporters, like the Philippine Export Competitiveness Program (PECP), the Regional Interactive Platform for Philippine Exporters (RIPPLES); and the Halal Export Industry Development and Promotion Program.
FFCCCII officers appreciated this service by the EMB and shared their various concerns during the open forum. Concerns on the garments sector include the strict rules of origin, which make it difficult to avail of preferential tariffs. They are also concerned about the plan to end labor contractualization, which could increase labor costs and erode their competitiveness in the international market. There were also specific requests for assistance on marketing their export products.
The DBFTA is a business-education program that aims to inform businesses of the benefits of FTAs. It has recently expanded to include sessions on Asean integration and GSP schemes.
Rafaelita C. Castro, Chief, Market Innovation Division