Prague, Czech Republic–On 15 March 2024, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. together with DTI Secretary Fred Pascual and the Philippine delegation welcomed the signing of agreements during the Philippine-Czech Business Forum held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Czernin Palace.

The delegation underscored the signing as a positive step forward, leveraging the complementary strengths of both nations in the semiconductor and Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sectors, which will pave the way for greater economic cooperation.

“We recognize that there is ample opportunity to enhance bilateral investment flows, leveraging the complementary nature of our economies, notably within priority sectors such as electronics manufacturing and information technology-business process outsourcing (IT-BPO). These sectors are pivotal in pursuing sustainable economic growth,” Secretary Pascual said.

During the forum, three memoranda of understanding (MOU) were signed. The first MOU is between the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. (SEIPI) and the Electrical and Electronic Association of the Czech Republic which is aimed at fostering cooperation in extensive initiatives on the bilateral exchange of information. It includes the organization of bilateral trade, economic development, exchange missions, skills and knowledge, and innovation.

The second MOU is between the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines, Inc. and the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic which highlights cooperation for trade and investment promotion between both countries in areas of commercial and industrial relations (in IT-BPM). It involves an exchange of best practices on influencing government policies and playing an active role in policy-making, talent development, and encouraging responsible AI implementation.

The third MOU is between the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic which will center on the promotion of trade and investment between both nations. This will be in the areas of commercial and industrial relations (in IT-BPM), exchange of trade missions, organizing trade exhibits and fairs, handling business inquiries, research, education, and training.

Meanwhile, in his keynote speech, President Marcos Jr. emphasized the potential of the Philippines as a valuable partner in the Czech Republic’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. Recognizing the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, both sides expressed their desire to work together in ensuring regional stability and prosperity.

The Philippine delegation also sought the Czech Republic’s support for its reapplication to the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) new scheme. This preferential trade arrangement grants duty-free access for the country’s exports to the European market. Further, the Philippines reiterated its interest in the resumption of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union.

Likewise, the delegation acknowledged the Czech Republic’s expertise in mineral processing and extended an invitation to Czech companies to invest in critical mineral processing in the country. President Marcos added that this collaboration presents an opportunity for both nations to diversify their supply chains and mitigate potential disruptions in the global market.

Highlighting the Philippines’ readiness to welcome Czech companies, the Philippine delegation expressed the country’s eagerness to hold dialogues for potential industry cooperation during the upcoming Joint Committee on Economic Cooperation scheduled in July 2024. ♦

Date of release: 16 March 2024