MANILA – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Tuesday the Joint Economic Cooperation (JEC) between the Philippines and Chile will commence this year to strengthen trade and investment ties between the two nations.
DTI Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo and Vice Minister for Trade of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Chile Rodrigo Yáñez signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) last month to establish the JEC between the Philippines and Chile.
The DTI said it is the first JCE that the Philippines had with a South American country.
“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 said in a statement.
He said the JEC will serve as a tool for engagement for both governments to improve the current trade and investment level between the two countries.
In 2020, bilateral trade between the Philippines and Chile amounted to USD59.71 million, making Chile the 54th major trading partner of the country.
The DTI said in the past decade, there were no investments from Chile to the Philippines.
In 2019 alone, Chilean companies invested outside their country some USD8.43 billion mostly in sectors of services, finance and insurance, and gas.
“The JEC is thus significant as both sides will explore ways to promote trade and economic cooperation through the exchange of information in economic issues and concerns, the identification of sectors where cooperation can be intensified, and the recognition of measures for trade and investment expansion and diversification, among others,” Philippine Ambassador to Chile Teresita Daza said.
Earlier, Rodolfo said the DTI aimed to negotiate a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Chile through the JEC, which is in line with DTI’s plan to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
CPTPP, formerly known as TPP, is a trade pact of 11 countries including Chile.
He added that through a PTA, they could iron out market access requests of Chile before the country’s accession to CPTPP.
This could make the Philippines accession to CPTPP move faster, Rodolfo added.
“We expect the discussion with parties, where the Philippines does not have FTA (free trade agreement) with, to start on exchange of expectations when it comes to priority market access issues,” he said. “It would be critical for us to engage the CPTPP members that are currently not part or not a partner of the Philippines in FTA.”
CPTPP member countries include Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and Peru. (PNA)