DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez (left) with Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko at the sidelines of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting in Pasay City last 9 September.

As part of the continued cooperation between the Philippines (PH) and Japan (JP), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez met his Japanese counterpart, Economy, Trade, and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko in a bilateral meeting held on 9 September 2017 at the sidelines of the Philippine hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings in Pasay City.

The meeting commenced with a turnover of “Japan’s Inputs Towards the Formulation of Industry Vision of the Philippines,” an industrial development scenario for PH under the Philippines-Japan Industrial Cooperation Dialogue, which will contribute to the finalization of PH’s inclusive, innovation-led, industrial strategy (i3s).

“This will help the Philippines fine-tune its inclusive and innovation-led industry strategy, as well as contribute to the realization of the government’s vision of no one left poor,” said Sec. Lopez.

Industry cooperation initiatives will enable PH to take advantage of JP’s expertise and experience as PH adopts these in the local industry setting. Further improvements to PH’s i3s will help upgrade local industries, allow them to better participate in global value chains, and create more, better, and higher value jobs for Filipinos.

PH also expressed its support to JP’s proposal on the introduction of rules in e-commerce and internet protocol (IP).

Substantive discussions were also held on improving market access for top PH exports through the General Review of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA) during the scheduled 6thJoint Committee Meeting this September, as well as on exerting utmost efforts to achieve substantial outcomes for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement under the Philippines’ ASEAN Chairmanship this year.

Minister Seko raised the potential effects of public enterprises under RCEP to small and medium enterprises. Sec. Lopez said that these issues must be monitored to ensure that industries are protected.

PH thanked JP for its willingness to meet for the PJEPA Joint Committee Meeting, which has prime importance to move forward with the discussions on tariff preferences, particularly for products of interest to PH such as bananas, mangoes, and pineapples.

PH also conveyed its intention to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). As an update to the status of TPP, JP shared that two negotiating rounds have been concluded between JP and Australia and both are scheduled to meet for the third time. JP is confident that the agreement in principle will be established by November.

Trade deals are expected to further boost economic and trade relations with JP, which was PH’s 2nd biggest trading partner, top export market, and 2nd largest import supplier in 2016. In particular, these trade engagements benefit exporters of top agricultural products to JP, most of which are from the Mindanao region.

Top export products from Mindanao include fruits, bananas, tuna, coconut products, fresh pineapples that comprised 60.5% of total PH exports to the world in 2016. These, together with other products included in the PH’s request for better market access to JP will further enhance competitiveness of PH exports in the Japanese market.