The 2nd Meeting of the Philippines-Vietnam Joint Trade Committee (JTC) was convened on 24 April 2017 in Manila with Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo of the Department of Trade and Industry and Deputy Minister Tran Quoc Khanh of Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade co-chairing the Meeting. Following the Presidential Visit of H. E. Rodrigo Roa Duterte, ties between the two fastest growing large Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economies are being strengthened.

The JTC is a bilateral mechanism for discussion of trade, investments and economic cooperation. In a Joint Statement on Strategic Partnership signed last November 15, 2015, the importance of enhancing the bilateral relations, particularly on trade, investments and economic cooperation was reaffirmed. Succeeding high level meetings and visits by the Leaders and officials from both countries further provided the impetus to convene the JTC.

The Joint Committee agreed on important initiatives geared towards improving overall levels of trade and investment, further enhancing trade and investment promotion initiatives and making use of cooperative schemes to capitalize on the complementarities of both countries in developing certain industries and/or sectors. The Philippines in particular conveyed that Vietnam could source bananas, processed food and industrial goods such as auto parts, semiconductors and electronic parts and components from the Philippines. Vietnam on the other hand could provide the Philippines with its requirements on wood and timber and base metals. Acknowledging that a lot of trade and investment opportunities remain untapped, both countries discussed the improvement of the business environment focusing on the requirements and procedures of certain agriculture and processed products to enter into other’s markets and compliance to standards and technical regulations. Private sector involvement through the business councils was underscored in the implementation of these activities.

The meeting also covered a proposed MOU on Trade and Investment Promotion, MSMEs training and learning missions on doing business in Vietnam, a sourcing program for wearables and enhanced cooperation in the area of education, energy, infrastructure and construction, fish and fisheries products and agriculture.

“While the Philippines and Vietnam regularly meet in ASEAN, the bilateral track, through the JTC remains to be an equally important mechanism for engagement,” Undersecretary Rodolfo remarked. He added that “with the JTC, we have embarked on developing a shared approach to further enhance our trade and investment relations, towards our common interest in economic prosperity not only in our respective countries, but also in the region.”

Vietnam is the Philippines’ 12th trading partner, 12th export market and 12th import supplier in 2016. The re-convening of the JTC comes at a time when the Philippines and Vietnam are about to celebrate the 41st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.