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18 March 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

TRADE Secretary Ramon M. Lopez pushed for greater bilateral cooperation on the area of barter trade between the Philippines and Malaysia during his dialogue with Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking on March 8, 2019.

The trade chief said the revival of the barter-trade system in Mindanao will support the promotion of the halal industry from both countries. The ministers also agreed to cooperate in strengthening the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Areas (BIMP-EAGA).

“We should really make these areas of cooperation work to create and bring more economic activities to both Filipinos and Malaysians. The barter trade, as well as the BIMP-EAGA, will mean a lot to our people,” Lopez said.

The trade chief reported the ongoing progress in the revival of the barter-trade system in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi areas (Basulta) that aims to provide more livelihood and income to small coastal communities, especially in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. He also underscored the Philippines’s potential in the halal industry and the opportunities it offers to Malaysian consumers.

Officials from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) noted that apart from electronics, top imports from the Philippines include processed food, which could be a strong start for halal promotions.

In 2018 Malaysia was the country’s 10th-largest trading partner, 11th-largest export market and ninth-top import supplier. Total bilateral trade amounted to $6 billion in 2018 compared to $5.5 billion in 2017.

The Department of Trade and Industry will head a delegation in April to attend the Malaysia International Halal Showcase.

“This kind of activities is very important to the Philippines as the country is still beginning to recognize its potentials in the halal industry and would learn much from big economies, like Malaysia,” Lopez added.

Both ministers expressed the need to focus on the development of ASEAN’s subregions, which include the BIMP-EAGA.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian minister expressed his appreciation of Philippine products and home-grown brands like Jollibee, which is currently expanding in Malaysia.

MITI officials also conveyed the interest of many Malaysian companies in participating in the Philippines’s massive infrastructure project, “Build, Build, Build,” as well as the assistance extended to companies intending to invest in the Philippines.

The meeting between Lopez and Leiking followed the visit to the Philippines of Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad last week.

Present during the meeting were DTI Undersecretaries Ceferino Rodolfo and Abdulgani Macatoman, Assistant Secretaries Angelo Taningco and Allan Gepty, Board of Investments International Investments Promotion Service Chief Lanie Dormiendo, Malaysia External Trade Development Corp. (Matrade) CEO Dato’ Wan Latiff Wan Musa, Malaysian Investment Development Authority Executive Director for Strategic Planning Zabidi Mahbar, Asean Economic Integration Division of MITI Director Khairulnizam Hashim and Matrade Manila Trade Commissioner Siti Azlina Mohd Ali Hanafiah.

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