2 December 2020 via Zoom

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon to our exporters in the Philippines attending the Usapang Exports for National Exporters Week. Good morning also to the Consultants for the Swiss Import Promotions Programme (SIPPO) who are virtually here with us. We hope everyone is keeping safe and healthy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

First of all, we would like to acknowledge the presence of Ambassador Alain Gaschen of the Embassy of the Swiss Confederation to the Philippines. The Embassy has been a valued partner of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in improving bilateral trade relations between our two nations, as well as in the promotion of trade with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). 

With that in mind, we would like to thank the Switzerland government through the SIPPO for the “Trade Capacity Building: Market Study–Philippines.” This study—which covers Processed Food, Natural Ingredients and Value-Added Textiles—is one of the key outcomes from the discussions in the 3rd Philippine-Switzerland Joint Economic Cooperation (JEC) last 2018.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the SIPPO Consultants for helping us explore the potential of the aforementioned sectors in the EFTA and EU Market.

With this collaboration, we can increase Philippine exports to the EFTA and EU States—particularly with Switzerland—while also improving our country’s competitive position in the market.

The Philippines values its trade and economic relationship with the EFTA, comprised of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. Collectively, Philippine trade with the EFTA countries in 2019 was valued at US$817.99M with exports at US$433.81M and imports at US$384.19M. What’s more, since the signing of the Philippine-EFTA Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2016 and its implementation in 2018, the Philippines enjoys 0% tariff for industrial and fisheries tariff lines, as well as significant concessions on agricultural products.

We would like to inform everyone that despite the setbacks and challenges brought about by the pandemic to our country, there is light at the end of tunnel.

With the gradual reopening of our economy, we’ve seen signs of recovery with our GDP slowly improving from -16.5% in the 2nd quarter of this year to -11.5% in the 3rd quarter. What’s more, our unemployment rate has eased to 10% last July from 17.7% in April, which was at the height of the lockdown.

Our merchandise exports have also climbed back to positive growth to 2.2% in September from -50.8% in April, driven by the increase in the export of copper and other mineral products, chemicals, and electronic products. Furthermore, Net Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to the Philippines is up by 41% as of July 2020, while 47% in August and has been at positive growth for four consecutive months.

These are clear indications that the Philippines is truly on the road to recovery and is ready to do business again with the world. That is why we are also launching a new investment promotion brand, “Make it Happen in the Philippines,” to showcase our country and relay a clear message across to the rest of the world that the Philippines is dynamic, agile, and resilient.

Thus, with this webinar offering the findings and recommendations of the study, we hope that our exporters can take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to expand your market and promote your products effectively in the EFTA and EU. We also hope that this event—and other future engagements—will move us all towards greater collaboration in order to sustain export development and promotion in our country.

The success of our exporters means more economic opportunities that would create more jobs and employment for our people. This, in turn, would empower our people to achieve a better and more comfortable quality of life as promised by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

We wish everyone a successful webinar at the Usapang Exports, as well as a happy National Exporters Week.

Thank you and mabuhay tayong lahat.

Date of Release: 02 December 2020