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Philippines looking towards India for growth

By RJ Whitehead , 18-Dec-2012

The Philippines government has urged Filipino exporters to look for opportunities in India as a means to mitigate the current downturn in key markets like the United States and Europe.

Moreover, an Asean-India trade agreement can further reinforce market opportunities for Filipino exporters engaged in a number of export fields, including food and beverage, according to Bureau of Export Trade Promotion director Senen Perlada.

"Engaging in free trade area markets like India will help maintain the country's competitiveness, promote cross-border complementation and sustain the inflow of investments," Perlada said.

Changing demographics

Asean-India trade has steadily grown over the past five years, more than doubling from US$21.2bn in 2007 to US$43.9bn last year. Perlada put this increased demand down to the growing affluence of Indian consumers. The country’s changing lifestyle and consumer habits has also resulted in the rapid expansion of branded food outlets and cafe chains in the country.

In 2011, India was the Philippines' 18th top trading partner, 17th top export destination and 15th top import source.

All 10 Asean states have been recently implementing the Asean-India Trade in Goods Agreement. Under the agreement, exports including live fish, black tea, spices, vegetable saps and extracts, olive oil, breads and pastries and fruit juices among others will enjoy zero tariffs by 2019. 

Intensive lobbying

These products currently have reduced tariff from 7% to 24% in the Indian market.

Meanwhile, Philippines vice-president Jejomar Binay is preparing to meet with business leaders in New Delhi this week to generate greater Indian investor interest in his country.

Binay will represent the Philippines in behalf of President Aquino at the Asean-India Commemorative Summit between member-nations of Asean and their Asian neighbor.

This summit will gather government and business leaders from India and the South-east Asian countries. I am optimistic this will be instrumental in realising our shared vision of attaining lasting peace and equitable progress,” Binay said in a statement.

For its part, India is also looking to increase its portion of the Philippines trade pie, so lobbying at the summit will be a two-way street.

Trade between India and the Asean is growing. We trade mostly with Malaysia with Singapore as a trading hub, but there are a lot of opportunities in the Philippines,” said Amit Dasgupta, ambassador of India to the Philippines. “The strong economic growth of the country and the recent signing of the Bangsamoro peace pact opens up many business possibilities.”

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