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UK businesses support extended lower food tariffs until 2028 and other Philippine government initiatives

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By Veronica Uy

The British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP) has expressed its support for the extension of lowered tariff rates on pork and other agricultural items until 2028, alongside several other Philippine government initiatives.

In a forum, BCCP Executive Director and Trustee Chris Nelson shared that British businesses in the Philippines remain optimistic about the midyear outlook for UK-Philippine trade relations. He emphasized that the Chamber will continue promoting the Philippine government’s key initiatives and supporting its priority legislation on agriculture, cybersecurity, infrastructure, and energy.

Nelson said the swift passage of priority legislation will strengthen partnerships between UK and Philippine business communities, and contribute to the Philippines’ development as an investment destination in the region.

On June 29, 2024, President Marcos issued Executive Order No. 62, which mandated the modification of nomenclature and tariff rates on various products to ensure a continuous supply of goods and protect the purchasing power of Filipinos. This executive order extended the lowered tariff rates on pork and other agricultural commodities until 2028. The British Chamber, along with importers, has consistently supported this extension to ensure a stable food supply and help manage inflation, which decreased to 3.7% in June 2024 after a four-month upward trend.

“The implementation of an updated comprehensive tariff schedule aims to augment supply, manage prices, and temper inflationary pressure of various commodities, consistent with the Philippine national interest and the objective of safeguarding the purchasing power of Filipinos,” said President Marcos under the Executive Order 62.

Additionally, the British Chamber reiterated the need to pass the Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act, a priority bill awaiting the President’s signature. This legislation will significantly complement government efforts to boost the local agricultural sector by providing safeguards for local farmers and consumers.

To reinforce its commitment to enhancing UK-Philippines meat trade, the British Chamber, in partnership with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), will host the Philippine-British Meat Trade Briefing & Reception on July 30, 2024. This event will bring together delegations from UK meat exporters and local partners, continuing the previously held trade missions and market briefings. The event also aims to support AHDB’s participation in World Food Expo 2024 to explore further opportunities in the pork and beef sectors.

Two other priority legislation are the Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act (AFASA), which has been approved by both Houses of Congress and currently awaits the President’s signature, and the Cybersecurity Act, which President Marcos supports after the recommendation of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) Digital Infrastructure Group last year.

BCCP’s Nelson highlighted previous engagements with CyberQ Group and a cybersecurity event organized by the British Embassy Manila and British Standards Institution (BSI Group). “Cybersecurity is a key issue, particularly for the financial sector but also across the whole area. We strongly urge the passage of these key pieces of legislation, which will reinforce and raise awareness of this crucial issue,” he said.

The British Chamber also supports the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) in promoting investment opportunities in New Clark City (NCC) for British investors in manufacturing, infrastructure, renewable energy, and food sectors.

“All of these projects, particularly infrastructure, are attractive to companies. Planning for infrastructure is essential because it drives GDP growth, which recently fell slightly to 5.7%. We are optimistic and believe the projects are well-aligned. We look forward to working with BCDA and continuing to highlight opportunities for UK companies and investors in Clark and other BCDA areas,” Nelson said.

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