Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Delivering Stories of Progress


Phl-EU trade partnership spurs inclusive growth in the global market

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By Monsi A. Serrano

EU and the Philippines trade bilateral trade relationship remains strong as reflected in the figures wherein the trade in goods of the two countries amounted to €4.7 billion in 2021, and €18.4 billion in 2022, with almost 291+% growth, a strong indication that massive potential for the trade is there.

The EU is the Philippines’ fourth-largest trading partner, accounting for 7.9% of the country’s total trade, while the Philippines is the EU’s 39th largest trading partner globally, accounting for 0.4% of the EU’s total trade.  

Given the upward trajectory of the trade cooperation between the two partners, plus the active support of the European Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines, the European Union granted €5.8 million trade-related technical assistance for the project Arise Plus Philippines. This will pave the way to stand as a beacon of economic progress and inclusive growth, driving the nation’s economic vitality and integration into the international market. But this is not just a financial investment but a strategic partnership aimed at enhancing the Philippines’ trade performance and competitiveness.

The project highlights the collaborative efforts with Philippine government agencies, including the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to uplift the country’s trade competencies and market access, particularly within the European Union (EU).

Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are the lifeblood of the Philippine economy, constituting over 99% of its economic landscape. Despite their significance, many MSMEs face considerable challenges that hinder their growth and sustainability. Factors such as inflationary pressures and intense market competition necessitate the exploration of avenues for expanding their market reach on a global scale.

Launched on 01 March 2021, Arise Plus Philippines is set to pave the way for Philippine businesses to enter the EU market until February 28, 2025, with the possibility of extension in light of the ongoing renewal of trade negotiations with the European Union. It aligns with the nation’s long-term development plan, supporting strategies for exports, industry, and MSMEs.

The project’s core objective is to foster inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction, with a keen focus on enabling the Philippines to benefit from EU market access and the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) trade privileges.

Notably, the project’s deliverables are designed in line with its multi-faceted goals. It targets five key outputs, each drawn to strengthen a specific aspect of trade facilitation and policy development. These include enhancing the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) and quality systems for food exports, bolstering trade facilitation capacities, and supporting the Philippines’ economic integration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) following the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025.

Arise Plus Philippines has already made significant strides, generating 975 business leads and deals, with a combined value of USD 122.6 million in 2023 alone. These figures reflect the project’s impact on sectors like coconut and game development through foreign immersions to solicit business from the country’s neighbors in the ASEAN and the European Union.

The project has also produced critical policy materials, such as an Export Potential Assessment, which identifies lucrative export opportunities and markets. An EU GSP+ Policy Study analyzes the extent of the GSP+ preference utilization, while technical briefs address EU sustainable initiatives, including regulations on deforestation, single-use plastics, carbon border adjustment, and the circular economy. These will help businesses comply with these requirements and successfully tap into the EU Market.

One of the project’s notable achievements is the ongoing Investment Facilitation Needs Assessment, which evaluates compliance with Investment Facilitation for Development instrument of the WTO. It signals to the world that the Philippines is at the forefront of investment facilitation globally, being the first to implement this strategy.

Moreover, the project has aided the Bureau of Customs in adapting to the evolving demands of e-commerce, implementing Risk-Based Inspection principles, and strengthening the Authorized Economic Operator framework of the Philippines. These three thematic focuses symbolize the Customs Authorities of the Philippines continued commitment to adapting to changes brought about by global commerce.

Arise Plus Philippines is not just about numbers and policies, it is about stories of resilience and success, showcasing Philippine exporters to the EU and beneficiaries who have commenced exporting with the project’s assistance through the publication of success stories.

The timeliness of the project is particularly significant considering the recently renewed EU-PH Free Trade Agreement Negotiations which, if successful, will play a huge role in the economic development of the Philippines.

As the project moves forward, Arise Plus Philippines continues to engage with stakeholders, including MSMEs and various bureaus within the DTI. It is a testament to the resilience and potential of the Philippine economy to expand beyond its borders and flourish.

Furthermore, the project promises to bring about more opportunities for inclusive growth and development in the country through the spirit of collaboration, innovation, and resilience—charting a course for a thriving and interconnected future for Filipino businesses and the global economy.

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