Philippines eyes preferential trade deal with India

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and India are looking at entering into a preferential trade agreement (PTA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

In a statement, the DTI said the two countries agreed to consider having a PTA during the13th Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Trade and Investments (JWGTI) held on Sept.17.

Under a PTA, the Philippines and India would be able to reduce and eliminate tariffs on products of interest to both parties.

Both countries share the view a bilateral approach would address respective sensitivities.

“A more focused approach like a PTA is more practical.  The Philippines is eager to conclude one with India not only to improve current trade levels in terms of value and volume, but also in the breadth of products to be covered as current trade is highly concentrated on a few products,” Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said.

For his part, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce of India Anant Swarup said “India recognizes the benefits of negotiating a PTA with the Philippines.”

He said both countries should consult authorities and secure the mandate for the PTA negotiations.

Philippine Ambassador to India Ramon Bagatsing Jr. and India’s Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran have expressed support for the forging of a PTA.

Both ambassadors have also stressed the importance of setting timelines for negotiations for the PTA.

Trade assistant secretary Allan Gepty said the PTA is a concrete response to harness the potentials of the complementarities, particularly in supporting linkages and addressing supply chain gaps through enhanced market access of inputs and raw materials in the identified areas of trade.

During the JWGTI, the Philippines and India discussed initiatives to work together in promoting various sectors such as electronics, information technology – business process management, textiles, energy, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.

Last week, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Indian Industry, Embassy of India in Manila and the Embassy of the Philippines in New Delhi organized a webinar which recognized the opportunities for collaboration in the fields of pharmaceuticals, IT, and financial technology.

Last year, India was the 14th trading partner of the Philippines out of 226, with total trade amounting to $2.4 billion.

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