Trade, investment hopes spring in 2012

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Philippines' Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will likely end 2012 on a happy note as officials welcome improvements from last year as well as optimism going into the new year.

Merchandise exports benefited from a low base and the absence of major supply chain disruptions similar to the triple disaster in Japan and the flooding that hit Thailand in 2011.

Robust shipments helped the economy expand in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), which economists expect to hit about 7 percent this year.

"People thought I was crazy when I said before that GDP could hit 7 percent," Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo told the Inquirer in an interview.

"And yet, here we are, with 6.5 percent GDP in the first nine months, growing exports, and high investor interest."

Government wants the economy to grow at an average yearly rate of 7 to 8 percent to curb poverty.

Merchandise exports are expected to breach the record $51.4 billion set in 2010, and may even reach up to about $52 billion from last year's $48 billion, Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio said in a separate interview.

Related story: Poll: 9 of 10 Pinoys have high hopes for New Year

Interestingly, Panlilio said, growth comes despite the flat performance of electronics, which make up nearly half of outbound shipments.

This means growth is largely coming from non-electronics exports, particularly agro-industrial products.

It may take officials until February to consolidate and publish exports data, but Panlilio is confident that sales of most Philippine merchandise, including fruits, coconut oil, and sugar will hit a new record.

Cumulative merchandise exports for the first ten months of 2012 grew by 7.1 percent to $44.475 billion, from the $41.532 billion posted in the same period last year, according to the National Statistics Office.

Going into 2013, trade officials also expect fresh investments as they follow up on inbound missions-business trips comprising 5 or so companies-from various countries.

Such missions may reach 35 by the end of December 2012, Panlilio said.

There were 18 registered in 2011, according to DTI data.

Among the notable missions this year came from Russia, France, Italy, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

"The key factor is, if the markets will absorb more of our exports," said Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., Philippine Exporters Confederation president.

Also read: Envoys upbeat on Philippines-US ties

Part of DTI's strategy to boost outbound shipments is to educate exporters and would-be traders on how to benefit from free-trade agreements (FTA).

A free-trade agreement is a deal between two or more countries to eliminate or reduce tariffs and other requirements that restrict trade among nations.

The DTI's Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (BETP) and the Philippine Trade Training Center facilitate the seminars.

From January to October this year, the DTI conducted 95 seminars on FTAs, trade standards, and even product design preferences of consumers in target markets.

The Philippines' participation in trade agreements aids 55 percent of exported merchandise, BETP director Senen Perlada said.

Among these are food and beverages, jewelry, appliances and electronics, furniture, handicraft, cosmetics, agro-industrial products, and chemicals.

Presently, the Philippines has FTAs with the Asean, China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Customs brokers, BPOs, and the academe also benefit as they provide linkages and services, Perlada added.

In other news: VIEW: Women's rights: Turning point in India, triumph in Manila


Next up for seminars are professional groups for medical services, engineering, education, and accounting, among others, ahead of inter-country talent exchange when the planned Asean Economic Union is formed in 2015.

Also to help exporters, the DTI reopened two pavilions at the PhilTrade Center, a major export promotion facility in the 1980s that had fallen in disrepair due to ownership changes over the years.

The pavilions have become permanent showrooms for exports under Citem (Center of International Trade and Expositions) management.

Exhibitors do not pay rent but have to pay for operating cost, electric power (for air-conditioning and such), maintenance, utilities, and manpower (including janitors).

Also read: 2 US warships to dock in Philippines

Meanwhile, a number of pending issues have to be addressed next year to further propel trade, industry group leaders said.

Mining, the total log ban, and smuggling are among the crucial ones, said Jesus Lim Arranza, Federation of Philippine Industries chair.

"The government passed mining reforms and yet everything is pending without supporting legislation on revenue sharing. We have failed to take advantage of high metal prices," Arranza said in a phone interview.

"On the total log ban, it was not successful, and it only hit those that were legally into wood production.

Most of all, smuggled plywood abounds, which brings me to the third top issue for trade, in my view: smuggling.

We've been talking about smuggling of rice and other agricultural products, but there is still an influx of technically smuggled [goods]."

For trade to prosper, these issues need to be resolved next year, Arranza said.

Confusion over the primacy of national laws against local ordinances also have to be resolved so that investors are not hampered from doing business, especially in high-risk industries such as mining, he said.

Such investments are needed since the economy cannot simply depend on remittances and government and household spending.

In other news: Philippine church leaders urge laity to protest population bill

Also, the Philippines' investment climate still has many kinks that need to be ironed out, apart from the obvious confusion that now affects the mining sector.

Problems include conflicts in implementing the Local Government Code, Ortiz-Luis said.

Then there are issues on double taxation, discouraging both local and foreign investors, he added.

The high cost of doing business, lack of access to cheap credit, and research and development have also hampered trade this year, with government even authorizing its agencies to further increase fees (under Administrative Order 31) starting January 2013, he said.

With the Philippines having mixed results in various competitiveness studies, National Competitiveness Council private sector co-chairperson Guillermo Luz said that there is now a concerted effort with government agencies to fix high-impact kinks, including business registration and tax-related processes.

"We are optimistic that this level of cooperation and coordination among government agencies and the private sector will yield positive results and, hopefully, an improvement in our rankings in this report in the years ahead," Luz said via email.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors
    No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors

    Instead of filing an opposition, ombudsman prosecutors filed a manifestation yesterday expressing belief that there is no urgent need for Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to visit his son at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center. “Based on the clinical abstract issued by the Asian Hospital on patient (Cavite) Vice-governor (Jolo) Revilla, which was submitted by accused Revilla in support of his Urgent Motion, Vice-governor Revilla is in stable condition and has stable vital signs, as of March 1, …

  • Troops overrun BIFF bomb-making facility in Mamasapano
    Troops overrun BIFF bomb-making facility in Mamasapano

    Government troops captured Sunday a bomb and weapons factory of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced yesterday. Col. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman, said the captured bomb and weapons factory is located inside an area controlled by radical Muslim cleric Ustadz Mohammad Ali Tambako at Barangay Dasikil in Mamasapano. …

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say
    How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say

    CAIRO (AP) — Three British schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to become "jihadi" brides. Three young men charged in New York with plotting to join the Islamic State group and carry out attacks on American soil. A masked, knife-wielding militant from London who is the face of terror in videos showing Western hostages beheaded. …

  • Recruitment firm accused of worldwide scam
    Recruitment firm accused of worldwide scam

    Filipinos aspiring to work overseas should avoid dealing with a recruitment agency that has duped jobseekers worldwide, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said yesterday. The National Bureau of Investigation has padlocked Global Visas Inc., which is based in Cebu. Baldoz said the agency’s parent company, ICS Global Visas Inc. based in the United Kingdom, has reportedly collapsed and left thousands of applicants without jobs.  “Global Visas was in the limelight this week, following its reported …

  • Lawmakers split on tax exemption for Pacquiao
    Lawmakers split on tax exemption for Pacquiao

    Colleagues of boxing champion Manny Pacquiao at the House of Representatives backed yesterday a proposal to exempt his earnings from his May 2 fight with American Floyd Mayweather from income tax. Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares has urged Pacquiao to promptly pay taxes on his May 2 earnings, which are projected to reach at least $120 million (more than P5.2 billion). …

  • Woman with slain Putin critic says she didn't see his killer
    Woman with slain Putin critic says she didn't see his killer

    MOSCOW (AP) — The 23-year-old Ukrainian model who was with slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov tearfully recounted Monday their last dinner in a chic Red Square restaurant and their walk onto a nearby bridge — but said she did not see the gunman who pulled the trigger. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options