Despite India’s non-participation in the Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP), the Philippines assured Indian firms will still benefit with the deal through the Philippines.
This developed as Indian firms have expressed interest to participate in the infrastructure projects in the Philippines under the Build, Build, Build program.
“Given that India did not pursue its membership in the RCEP, Indian businesses can still benefit from the mega free trade agreement through the Philippines’ own participation.
Once it becomes effective, RCEP is expected to boost intra-regional investment and trade with Asean expected to play a vital role in this agreement,” Lopez said in his remarks at the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CCI) Infrastructure Conference held yesterday.
Benedicto Yujuico, president of PCCI, identified the Indian companies keen on the Philippines as GMR Airports Singapore P. Ltd., L&T Shipbuilding, IRCON, Shapoorji and Pallonji, Adani Ports and SEZ Ltd., and Rail India Technical and Economic Service Ltd. (RITES Ltd.) GMR Group has a strong presence in the Philippines through its partnership with Megawide that expanded and modernized the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
These companies were among the participants at the conference.
Lopez said in 2020, India was the Philippines’ 14th top trading partner, 13th top export market, and 13th foremost import supplier. India was the Philippines’ 15th top investment partner for 2019, with the same ranking as of January to September 2020.
“There are still many economic opportunities that have yet to be fully tapped for our bilateral relations to reach its full potential,” Lopez said.
The Philippines and India in 2020 held the 13th Philippines-India Joint Working Group on Trade and Investments where both nations agreed to consider a possible preferential trade agreement and discussed potential collaboration and cooperation initiatives on a wide range of areas—particularly infrastructure.
At the meeting, India was also encouraged to consider the opportunities in Philippine infrastructure and construction.
The Board of Investments has presented six public-private partnership rail projects while the Philippines conveyed its interest to participate in India’s port modernization and new port development projects under the Sagarmala and the Bharatmala Projects.