Greater cooperation ahead as EU commits EUR 6.1 million.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez and European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen affirmed the long-term partnership of the Philippines and the EU on trade and development with the completion of the third phase of the EU-Philippine Trade Related Technical Assistance project 3 (TRTA 3) on 28 March.

“By working on trade-related issues through the project, the EU and the Philippines collaborated on strengthening the framework for trade policy for inclusive growth, and enhancing our capacity to implement a competition policy and a national quality infrastructure that would protect consumers and improve compliance with international standards,” Sec. Lopez said during the closing ceremonies of the third phase of the EU-Philippine TRTA3.

“This will also help increase our access to international markets, and facilitate cross-border movement of goods,” he added.

“We are committed to support the strengthening of Philippines’ integration into the world economy, and to contribute to the country’s inclusive growth goals,” Ambassador Jessen said, with the EU already committing EUR 6.1 million for a fourth phase of the programme.

The EU has been supporting the Philippines with trade-related technical assistance since 2005. TRTA 3, the third phase of the program (2014-2017), aimed to build capacity among stakeholders for the Philippines’ integration into the international and regional trading and investment system. The project components covered Trade Policy, Competition Policy, National Quality Infrastructure, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Conformity, and Trade Facilitation.

The trade chief explained that the program worked with both public and private sectors to actively participate in global trade.

“Trade is a lever for economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction. As ASEAN chair in 2017, the Philippines also recognises the strong implications of trade for regional cooperation and stability,” he said.

A highlight of the TRTA3 closing program is the launch of the Philippine Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (PhilRASFF), a state-of-the-art web-based alert system for food authorities to immediately respond to food safety incidents. These include contaminated food products found on the Philippine market or at the Philippine border, as well as food-borne disease outbreaks involving marketed products.

In cooperation with the EU RASFF, ASEAN RASFF and the International Network of Food Safety Authorities (INFOSAN), the PhilRASFF system enables competent authorities to file notifications and exchange information–whether as a result of inspections or through foreign notifications–on consumer complaints or companies reporting food safety incidents.

PhilRASFF will also strengthen the capacity of the Philippines to efficiently tackle food safety risks and to contribute to the overall safety of food marketed in the ASEAN. The PhilRASFF was implemented by the TRTA 3 in partnership with the Philippines Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Trade Undersecretary and TRTA 3 Steering Committee Chairman Rodolfo Ceferino said that the collaboration of stakeholders contributed to the successful outcomes of TRTA3 activities.

“A pro-active government, the collaboration of our development partners, and stakeholder participation in decisions that would affect trade, would combine to shape Philippine competitiveness,” Undersecretary Ceferino said.

The TRTA3 covered a wide range of activities supporting the country’s priorities, including supporting the development of the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP), strengthening the capacity of the DTI and relevant government agencies on trade policy and trade negotiations, as well as hands-on training and capacity-building for staff at the departments of Agriculture, Health (Food and Drug Administration), Justice (Office for Competition), and Finance (Bureau of Customs).

Other highlights of the TRTA3 closing program included testimonials from beneficiaries on protecting the value of Filipino traditions and promoting women’s role in the economy by devising a collective trademark for the famous T’nalak cloth as well as working with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to combat illegal fishing.

Download TRTA3 success stories.