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The Philippines made its first move to formally engage South America in trade and investment through the establishment of joint economic cooperation (JEC) with Chile, who also showed support for the country’s accession to the trans-Pacific deal.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Tuesday the Philippines signed a memorandum of understanding with Chile to form a JEC.
Both parties, represented by Philippine Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo and Chilean Vice Minister for Trade Rodrigo Yáñez, agreed to convene within the year to keep the momentum of their bilateral discussions.
Rodolfo said that the JEC will enhance the current levels of trade and investments between the countries, allow discussion for cooperation in mutual interests and improve synergies among businesses.
“The JEC will serve as a confidence building measure to further intensify the bilateral economic linkages while addressing the challenges posed by geographic distance and generally low-level of awareness by businesses in each other’s markets,” Rodolfo added.
“It is of the utmost importance for our countries to define practical steps to foster open trade, enhance global value chains and support innovation and technology,” Yáñez said, highlighting the importance of international trade in facilitating economic recovery.
Chilean Ambassador to the Philippines Claudio Rojas, who believes that the JEC can deepen ties between the countries, said they should review the economic and trade issues in trade facilitation, trade promotion and investment.
“This initiative comes at a time when our countries are facing serious challenges across different fronts and with varying intensities because of, and exacerbated by, the Covid pandemic that is far from over,” Philippine Ambassador to Chile Teresita Daza added.
Regional trade pact
Yáñez said Chile is backing the Philippines’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Chile is in the process of ratifying the trading agreement through its legislative body.
The Chilean trade official said their technical team would be available to help the Philippines in the process.
CPTPP is a free trade agreement (FTA) among Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam signed on March 8, 2018 in Santiago, Chile.
Rodolfo earlier disclosed that the Philippines wrote to New Zealand, the depository country of CPTPP, in February to inform the country’s interest in joining the mega trade pact.
He said previously that the five target export products the DTI would like to secure in the deal include automotive parts, garments, agricultural commodities, processed agricultural products and plant-based meat alternatives, and electronics.
Yáñez, notwithstanding the invitation to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, expressed Chile’s interest to be part of the Asean-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA).
Rodolfo, in response, said that Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez is backing Chile’s accession to AANZFTA.
Bilateral trade between the Philippines and Chile reached $59.71 million last year.