PHL in 'sweet spot' to expand exports into EU — DFA Usec (GMA News)

The country's improvement in the 2012 global competitiveness ranking could facilitate the expansion of exports to the European markets, a Department of Trade and Industry official said.

"Looking at our macro-economic fundamentals and increased ranking in international competitiveness surveys, we can say that we are in a sweet spot to grow and expand [in] markets like the EU," Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal said during the Philippines–EU Trade Policy Consultations on Thursday.

The recent global competitiveness survey showed the Philippines jumped 10 notches higher from 75 last year to 65 this year.

Cristobal also said there is a need to diversify the country's exports and not rely solely on electronics.

"Electronics, our key export product to the EU, is mostly FDI [foreign direct investment]-driven. While we see growth of non-electronics exports to the EU [4 percent] and agriculture products [20 percent], we also recognize the need to diversify our exports and product offerings while attracting more investments," Cristobal said.

He said the DTI is also working on the formulation of sound industry development policies to increase the competitiveness of Philippine industries in FTA markets.

Currently, the Philippines has free trade agreements with the ASEAN, Japan, China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Cristobal said the analysis and recommendations on a potential Philippine-EU FTA are vital inputs to crafting trade policies, negotiating positions and industry development.

In 2010, Philippine exports to the EU registered its highest growth at 34 percent. Among ASEAN countries, the Philippines was the sixth top exporter to the EU.

The DTI had been actively doing "Doing Business in Free Trade Areas" seminars nationwide to inform businessmen, particularly local exporters, on the benefits of the FTAs the country has entered into.

Among the issues usually tackled in the previous consultations were tariff rate quotas, need for technical assistance to enter a particular market, foregone revenues in FTAs, impact of trade agreements in employment, issues on the movement of natural persons, and the need for better information dissemination about FTAs.

"Since last year, we have held stakeholder consultations on the Japan-Philippines Economic Agreement [JPEPA] and Philippine-EU FTA in key cities and provinces nationwide," Cristobal said.

Among these cities were Cebu, Davao, Manila, General Santos, and Southern Luzon (Tagaytay).

The consultations brought together stakeholders from government, civil society groups, academe, and the private sector.

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