NEDA seeks to strengthen trade ties with U.S.
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government plans to implement measures aimed at strengthening its ties with the United States, said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), after it saw upbeat trade performance last year.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said before the US-Philippines Society on Monday, February 19, that the Philippines will strive to improve trade with the US.
"We have a positive trade balance with the US and we want to keep it that way," the NEDA director-general said.
Back in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines can "survive" even without foreign assistance from the US and the European Union (EU).
This was followed by withdrawals of application for grants from the US, latest of which was in December last year with Millennium Challenge Corporation.
But with the upbeat trade perfomance, Pernia said there is "a need" to discuss and explore more free trade agreements (FTAs) with the US to foster investment opportunities.
"Even though we already have a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the US, it is still important to establish an FTA to gain access for more exports from the Philippines to the US market," Pernia said. (READ: Duterte's tough talk and what it could mean for US, EU investments)
The NEDA chief identified food production, agriculture, renewable energy, and services as sectors that can be further explored as trade and investment opportunities between the two countries.
Pernia also wants to open up more sectors to foreign investments and amend the Public Service Act to allow more trade opportunities in education, telecommunications, transportation, and construction.
"Now is an opportune time to strengthen ties with our foreign partners," Pernia said, emphasizing the recovery of global trade as an opportunity for Philippine exports to grow.
Philippine exports to the US registered $8.5 billion, while imports registered $6.4 billion from January to November 2017.
Among the top Philippine exports to the US were semi-conductors, garments, manufactures, electronics, and electronic data processing, all of which accounted for 56.9% of the total exports to the US from January to November 2017.
Meanwhile, investment commitments of the US reached P5.5 billion in the 1st 3 quarters of 2017, focusing mainly on administrative and support activities and manufacturing. – Rappler.com
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