PH, India eye free trade deal

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    The Philippines and India agreed to consider a preferential trade agreement (PTA) that would reduce and eliminate tariffs on products of mutual interests.

    This was reached at the13th Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Trade and Investments (JWGTI) last September 17.

    Both countries were in agreement that a bilateral approach would be more manageable to address respective sensitivities.

    Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo a more focused approach like a PTA is more practical for both countries.

    Rodolfo said for the Philippines, the deal will not only improve current trade levels in terms of value and volume but also in the breadth of products to be covered as current trade is highly concentrated on a few products.

    Total trade is negligible, from only about 0.3 to 1 percent, hence the full potential of the relations is yet to be reached.

    India’s Ministry of Commerce Secretary Anant Swarup said his country recognizes the benefits of negotiating a PTA with the Philippines and called for both countries to consult authorities and secure the mandate for the PTA negotiations.

    At the JWGTI, discussions focused on initiatives to foster synergies in various sectors such as textiles, electronics (smart manufacturing and digital technologies, IC design and electronics system design manufacturing), information technology-business process management (telemedicine, health information management, software development and IT solutions and online learning), energy, and agriculture.

    India was also encouraged to consider opportunities in the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients, vaccines and essential medicines and establishment of research and development facilities for herbal medicines.

    In 2019, India was the Philippines’ 14th top trading partner (out of 226), 17th export market (out of 220), and 13th import supplier (out of 194) with total trade of $2.4 billion.

    India was also the 8th largest source of approved investments at P915.64 million in 2019.