Philippines among the Highest Users of Trade Agreements in ASEAN

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines was among the countries in ASEAN including Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand with high utilization rate of preferential trade agreements in 2010, latest data from the ASEAN Secretariat showed.

Philippine utilization rate rose to 41.15%, a marked increase from the 20% utilization rate in the 2008 survey of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The increase showed that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)'s key program Doing Business in Free Trade Areas (DBFTA) program is gradually making an impact and encouraging more firms to use the FTAs.

"Clearly, capturing data on the utilization of our FTAs is an important step to assess the impact of our trade policies. Have we created more jobs? Are we making a dent on the social development goals of creating jobs and eradicating poverty?" said Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo.

The trade department is also working closely with different government agencies, including the National Sta-tistics Office (NSO) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to develop a harmonized system of capturing the country's data on the utilization of preferential trade agreements and address issues on improving the business environment.

Increasing FTA utilization is among the core strategies identified in the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP). Data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed that majority of Philippine exports went to these FTA markets as of November 2011: Japan, 18.44%; China, 12.62%; Korea, 4.57%, and countries in ASEAN such as Singapore, and Thailand, 13.02%.

DTI said they will conduct more in-depth sessions on preferential trade agreements to service the needs of our exporters. The business information sessions are also opportunities to get feedback from the ground and for the government to continuously review and strengthen capacity building programs for firm-level competitiveness.

For 2012, the DTI targets 100 information education sessions with various industries across the country. …