January 18, 2017, 2:10 pm
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.07373 UAE Dirham
1 Philippine Peso = 2.57378 Albanian Lek
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03554 Neth Antilles Guilder
1 Philippine Peso = 0.31799 Argentine Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02683 Australian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03594 Aruba Florin
1 Philippine Peso = 0.04015 Barbados Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 1.59024 Bangladesh Taka
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03683 Bulgarian Lev
1 Philippine Peso = 0.00756 Bahraini Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 33.69343 Burundi Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02008 Bermuda Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02866 Brunei Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.13752 Bolivian Boliviano
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06466 Brazilian Real
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02008 Bahamian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 1.3697 Bhutan Ngultrum
1 Philippine Peso = 0.21257 Botswana Pula
1 Philippine Peso = 401.92732 Belarus Ruble
1 Philippine Peso = 0.03975 Belize Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02636 Canadian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02027 Swiss Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 13.25216 Chilean Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 0.13857 Chinese Yuan
1 Philippine Peso = 59.08452 Colombian Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 10.94158 Costa Rica Colon
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02008 Cuban Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 2.08352 Cape Verde Escudo
1 Philippine Peso = 0.51054 Czech Koruna
1 Philippine Peso = 3.5802 Djibouti Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.14047 Danish Krone
1 Philippine Peso = 0.93074 Dominican Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 2.20173 Algerian Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.29553 Estonian Kroon
1 Philippine Peso = 0.37844 Egyptian Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.45091 Ethiopian Birr
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01889 Euro
1 Philippine Peso = 0.04186 Fiji Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01668 Falkland Islands Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01668 British Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.08489 Ghanaian Cedi
1 Philippine Peso = 0.88376 Gambian Dalasi
1 Philippine Peso = 186.70949 Guinea Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15123 Guatemala Quetzal
1 Philippine Peso = 4.106 Guyana Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15569 Hong Kong Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.45774 Honduras Lempira
1 Philippine Peso = 0.14162 Croatian Kuna
1 Philippine Peso = 1.28749 Haiti Gourde
1 Philippine Peso = 5.79984 Hungarian Forint
1 Philippine Peso = 267.35595 Indonesian Rupiah
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07659 Israeli Shekel
1 Philippine Peso = 1.3682 Indian Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 23.7101 Iraqi Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 649.86949 Iran Rial
1 Philippine Peso = 2.28267 Iceland Krona
1 Philippine Peso = 2.57599 Jamaican Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01421 Jordanian Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 2.28719 Japanese Yen
1 Philippine Peso = 2.08292 Kenyan Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 1.39468 Kyrgyzstan Som
1 Philippine Peso = 80.11845 Cambodia Riel
1 Philippine Peso = 9.27525 Comoros Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 18.06866 North Korean Won
1 Philippine Peso = 23.72214 Korean Won
1 Philippine Peso = 0.00613 Kuwaiti Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01646 Cayman Islands Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 6.68681 Kazakhstan Tenge
1 Philippine Peso = 163.9229 Lao Kip
1 Philippine Peso = 30.21682 Lebanese Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 3.01144 Sri Lanka Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 1.82694 Liberian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.27103 Lesotho Loti
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06121 Lithuanian Lita
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01246 Latvian Lat
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02868 Libyan Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.20159 Moroccan Dirham
1 Philippine Peso = 0.40323 Moldovan Leu
1 Philippine Peso = 1.15559 Macedonian Denar
1 Philippine Peso = 27.06284 Myanmar Kyat
1 Philippine Peso = 49.94981 Mongolian Tugrik
1 Philippine Peso = 0.16036 Macau Pataca
1 Philippine Peso = 7.12387 Mauritania Ougulya
1 Philippine Peso = 0.72014 Mauritius Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.30797 Maldives Rufiyaa
1 Philippine Peso = 14.38807 Malawi Kwacha
1 Philippine Peso = 0.43213 Mexican Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 0.08957 Malaysian Ringgit
1 Philippine Peso = 0.27209 Namibian Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 6.32403 Nigerian Naira
1 Philippine Peso = 0.58975 Nicaragua Cordoba
1 Philippine Peso = 0.17069 Norwegian Krone
1 Philippine Peso = 2.1843 Nepalese Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02826 New Zealand Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.00773 Omani Rial
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02008 Panama Balboa
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06745 Peruvian Nuevo Sol
1 Philippine Peso = 0.06333 Papua New Guinea Kina
1 Philippine Peso = 1 Philippine Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 2.10359 Pakistani Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.08276 Polish Zloty
1 Philippine Peso = 116.05701 Paraguayan Guarani
1 Philippine Peso = 0.0731 Qatar Rial
1 Philippine Peso = 0.08481 Romanian New Leu
1 Philippine Peso = 1.19264 Russian Rouble
1 Philippine Peso = 16.31379 Rwanda Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07528 Saudi Arabian Riyal
1 Philippine Peso = 0.15698 Solomon Islands Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.26272 Seychelles Rupee
1 Philippine Peso = 0.12864 Sudanese Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.17904 Swedish Krona
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02867 Singapore Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.01668 St Helena Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.44581 Slovak Koruna
1 Philippine Peso = 146.29592 Sierra Leone Leone
1 Philippine Peso = 10.96165 Somali Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 462.93516 Sao Tome Dobra
1 Philippine Peso = 0.17511 El Salvador Colon
1 Philippine Peso = 10.33889 Syrian Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.27216 Swaziland Lilageni
1 Philippine Peso = 0.7113 Thai Baht
1 Philippine Peso = 0.04658 Tunisian Dinar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.04632 Tonga Pa'ang
1 Philippine Peso = 0.07556 Turkish Lira
1 Philippine Peso = 0.1345 Trinidad Tobago Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.63521 Taiwan Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 44.48906 Tanzanian Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 0.5529 Ukraine Hryvnia
1 Philippine Peso = 72.37502 Ugandan Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 0.02008 United States Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.57519 Uruguayan New Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 64.9468 Uzbekistan Sum
1 Philippine Peso = 0.20026 Venezuelan Bolivar
1 Philippine Peso = 453.06163 Vietnam Dong
1 Philippine Peso = 2.15479 Vanuatu Vatu
1 Philippine Peso = 0.05167 Samoa Tala
1 Philippine Peso = 12.38747 CFA Franc (BEAC)
1 Philippine Peso = 0.05421 East Caribbean Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 12.49508 CFA Franc (BCEAO)
1 Philippine Peso = 2.24312 Pacific Franc
1 Philippine Peso = 5.01706 Yemen Riyal
1 Philippine Peso = 0.27219 South African Rand
1 Philippine Peso = 104.1859 Zambian Kwacha
1 Philippine Peso = 7.26561 Zimbabwe dollar

Stronger SMEs with integration

“WE will not wake up to a lot of cheap products.” This, trade officials stressed to allay fears about cheap products and services from our Asean neighbors flooding the local market when Asean integration takes effect at the end of the year. 

Specifically, small and medium enterprises will not be left out or be left behind when the AEC comes into full play, said trade officials. In fact, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has seen liberalization working well for the country, pushing it to be more competitive.

“Many sectors are worried, especially SMES, that after Asean economies integrate, we will be flooded with cheap products. We will not wake up to a lot of cheap products just like that,” said Department of Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo.

While AEC aims to establish a single market and production base with free movement of goods, services and investments across the 10 Asean member-countries (AMC) by December 31, 2015, Domingo stressed that free trade has been happening for the past five years,

“Tariffs of more than 90 percent of the products have been reduced to zero since January 1, 2010,” Domingo said. 

Domingo said however that some sectors are expected to have significant challenges with regards traded goods. In agriculture particularly, sugar will be most affected since its tariff would be reduced to 5 percent by this year from 38 percent.

As for rice, Domingo said the effects would not be drastic since from 40 percent the tariff would be down to 35 percent in 2015 and would remain at that level.

Domingo admits there are still sticky issues in Asean concerning non-tariff barriers (NTBs)such as standards or regulations that make it difficult to enter another market even after duties have already been eliminated.

“Asean is doing extra work with regards addressing the NTBs,” he said.
 
Giving SMEs a boost

Considered as the backbone of the Philippine economy, SMEs comprise 99 percent of all enterprises. These certainly need extra boost. To give SMEs a push in Asean, Domingo said government is working on trade facilitation measures that would ensure industries as small as cottage industries and micro enterprises would be part of the supply chain in the flow of goods and services between countries in the region.

Domingo acknowledged that exporting to another Asean country entails tight processes and tedious rules that SMEs might find difficult to comply with, such as the rules of origin.

To enjoy zero duties, products need to have at least 40 percent Asean content.

“We need to fast track the way small industries like processed food manufacturing and handicraft can participate in Asean trade by giving them leeway. Unlike multinational corporations which have an army of accountants and lawyers who can fill out voluminous forms, these small companies do not have resources to do just that,” Domingo said.

Domingo has proposed the creation of super green lanes for SMEs to facilitate shipments with less paper work, and setting de minimis rules allowing minimal requirements for goods traded below a set amount or value.

The Philippines has been pushing fellow Asean members to consider simplifying rules for export such as the rules of origin. This would enable SMEs to gain direct market access to a liberalized region not only as a part of a supply chain but a direct exporter.

The rules of origin require a certification that the product is indeed made from the home country, ensuring that there is no third-party transhipment. A certification earns zero tariffs. Rules of origin are, however, meant for big business.

“Our furniture and handicraft exporters want to export directly but they are so small. What we are pushing within Asean is for them to export freely,” he said. “Rules of origin are designed for big enterprises and not for SMEs. We need to make changes to ensure SMEs participate in an easy manner by making rules very simple for small companies to feel the effect and benefits of (free trade). Without that, it is hard to push the free trade agenda,” Dommngo said another interview. 
 
Surging in services

Even in services, the Philippines is seen to come out ahead. Domingo said Asean since 2007 has been progressively opening up services based on specified threshold. As it is, the region has completed the mutual recognition agreement on services including accountancy, architecture, dental, engineering, medical, nursing, surveyors and tourism.

But those are not regarded as threat to Filipino workers who do similar services. Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said services would be opened gradually and cautiously between 51 and 70 except for those covered by Constitutional limits to the extent that foreigners are allowed only 40 percent equity in some sectors.

Those covered by the liberalization include business services, professional services, construction services, education services, environment services, healthcare services, maritime services, maritime transport services among others.

Sectors like financial services are covered by a separate agreement under Asean wherein it would be opened by 2020 consistent with each Asean member-country’s national laws.

Plans are afoot to have one Asean bank admitted in the region. Each country is allowed certain flexibilities in services by exempting 15 percent of some 150 services sectors up for liberalization.”We will come ahead in AEC. We have educated, and capable and loyal Filipinos. The OFW phenomenon is not a fluke, it is real. We have the best value for money,” Domingo said.
 
Enhancing competitiveness

At the forum entitled “Industry Roadmaps and the AEC Game Plan: Regional Roadmaps for Competitiveness” held in Iloilo City last November, Domingo said “the goal is to increase efficiency and maximize productivity to enhance competitiveness. AEC drives us to improve the way we do things.” 

Domingo emphasized the need for industry to understand how global reforms impact on industrial development so that down to the rural communities, MSMEs, are assured to benefit from Asean integration.

Based on the country’s high GDP growth which is fastest in the region after China, Domingo said that “many of our companies are already competitive given the onslaught of products (from Asean). Our companies are growing.”

Liberalization has worked very well for the Philippines, in general. “It made many of our sectors competitive regionally and globally, allowing us to outperform in many sector,” Domingo said but added that many industries still need to be moved.

The Philippines, he said, is already competitive in electronics, information communication technology, high-end garments, and furniture.

“We welcome continued liberalization. In fact in the enabling trade survey of the WEF (World Economic Forum) we ranked very high at the globally in terms of  least barriers to trade. We will continue to take that position,” he said.
 
High compliance 

The Philippines in fact has one of the highest level of compliance in the commitments provided for under the AEC.

As Asean’s average  rate  compliance is between  84 and  89 percent, Cristobal said of the 439 measures specified in the AEC Blueprint commitments, the Philippines has a compliance rate of 87 percent as of 2013. 
 
Collaboration

Cristobal said there is a need for collaboration “to harmonize and complement the initiatives of both the government and private sector - where all players come together, converging on a coordinated plan and movement to achieve a goal or objective.”

“While government has already taken steps to enhance the country’s competitiveness through industry development roadmaps and appropriate policy reforms, it is equally important to communicate both the opportunities and challenges of the AEC to guide businesses,government agencies, and civil society.” Cristobal added.

Domingo echoed Cristobal’s call for collaboration. “The ball is in our court, so to speak. And we need to level up our game, intensify our strategic initiatives, and adopt a unified approach,” Domingo said in one of the fora on AEC.

Government seeks to further enhance the country’s competitiveness through policy and program initiatives that strengthen local industries. This endeavor is based on the strengthened partnership of government and the private sector. Areas covered by these initiatives: simplifying government transactions; ensuring transparency in bidding of government projects; developing industry roadmaps; fixing tariff distortions; enhancing infrastructure development; and focusing on education and skills training of the Filipino workforce, the backbone of the national economy. 

Domingo added that government is also reviewing its tax regime to make the country even more competitive. 

The DTI has been benchmarking the country’s tax structure against other Asean members, according to Domingo. He said that taxation significantly affects investment decisions.

Business groups, for their part, urged Congress to speed up the crafting of a Competition Law that would prevent anti-competitive business practices, abuse of market power, and anti-competitive mergers and other unfair trade practices; the end-goal: to strengthen local businesses of the integrated economies in Asean.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), on the other hand, said that a strong law on fair competition serves as the best defense of local businesses amid the influx of cheap commodities in the region. 

Such a law provides protection to investments flowing into the country. PCCI president Alfredo Yao said, in a seminar-workshop on competition policy and law, that the Competition Law will promote a more open environment for investments and will level the playing field for new entrants and current investors wishing to expand or diversify their investments in the domestic market.
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