Realizing the potential of a strategic partnership in the region, the Philippines and India agreed to consider a preferential trade agreement (PTA) at the recently concluded 13th Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Trade and Investments (JWGTI) on 17 September 2020.  

A PTA is a bilateral agreement that would aim to reduce and eliminate tariffs on products of mutual interests. Both countries were in agreement that a bilateral approach would be more manageable to address respective sensitivities.

DTI Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo stated “a more focused approach like a PTA is more practical.  PH is eager to conclude one with India not only to improve current trade levels in terms of value and volume but also in the breadth of products to be covered as current trade is highly concentrated on a few products.” For his part,  Joint Secretary Anant Swarup stressed  that “India recognizes the benefits of negotiating a PTA with the Philippines” and called for both countries to consult authorities and secure the mandate for the PTA negotiations.

In advance of the PTA negotiations, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Embassy of India in Manila, and the Embassy of the Philippines in New Delhi organized a webinar on India-Philippines Enhancing Bilateral Economic and Trade Relationship that was held on 25 September 2020. The webinar recognized the opportunities for collaboration in the fields of Pharmaceuticals, IT, and Financial Technology.  

DTI Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty underscored that the PTA is “a concrete response to harness the potentials of the complementarities particularly in supporting linkages and addressing supply chain gaps through enhanced market access of inputs and raw materials” in the identified areas of trade.

The proposed PTA received unanimous support from their Excellencies Ramon S. Bagatsing, Jr., Ambassador of the Philippines to India and Shambhu S. Kumaran, Ambassador of India to the Philippines. Both Ambassadors and the business chambers underscored the importance of acting proactively by setting timelines to immediately commence and conclude the negotiations. In 2019, Oxford Economics came up with the top ten (10) emerging markets that will dominate the global economy in the next decade. Notably, India ranked first and the Philippines ranked 2nd.♦

Date of Release: 30 September 2020