Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual and Deputy Minister Hanneke Schuiling

THE NETHERLANDS – During the meeting with Deputy Minister Hanneke Schuiling, Secretary Fred Pascual of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) underscored the potential to enhance bilateral trade relations between the Philippines and the Netherlands in sectors such as semiconductor and high-technology, agri-food processing, and infrastructure. The DTI chief highlighted the growing relations of the country with the Netherlands, with trade growth averaging around 10% annually over the past five years.

In his remarks, Secretary Pascual stressed the significant role of the Philippines in the Indo-Pacific-Asia interface as it recently assumed the role of Country Coordinator for ASEAN-EU relations until 2025. With this, the Secretary emphasized the importance of maintaining open economies and societies that will facilitate the relatively free movement of goods, services, and people.

He expressed enthusiasm for the first bilateral consultations conducted between the Philippines and the Netherlands in 2020 after 69 years. As such, Secretary Pascual stressed, “There is a need to maintain this momentum as this can work in strengthening the cooperation and commitment from both our countries and put emphasis on trade and investments, water management, maritime matters, agriculture, and science and technology.”

The Philippine delegation also reminded the Dutch side of the “coordinating authorities or focal points” as outlined in Article 4 of the 1995 Memorandum of Understanding on Economic and Technological Cooperation between the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands and DTI-Philippines. This MOU recognizes cooperation in various areas including (1) trade and investment; (2) agriculture; (3) transport and communication; (4) energy; (5) the services sector; (6) environmental technology; and, (7) flood control and land reclamation.

Further, Secretary Pascual expressed his interest in the country to be the sixth priority of the Netherlands for economic cooperation, following the ASEAN-5 countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Likewise, the DTI chief also sought the continuation of the Programma Uitzending Managers (PUM) initiative in the Philippines following the decision by the Netherlands’ lower house bicameral parliament to withdraw PUM’s presence in 12 countries, including the Philippines.

Secretary Pascual also informed the Dutch side about the outcomes of his meetings in Brussels, specifically regarding the GSP+ scheme and the resumption of negotiations for the Philippines-EU free trade agreement. ♦

Date of release: 03 July 2023