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Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

Government focuses on trade pacts amid strong growth

Healthy exports growth, economic cooperation, and trade facilitation initiatives will sustain the country’s trade growth which recorded a double-digit growth last October, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-attached agency Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the country’s total trade grew by 10.4 percent year-on-year in October 2017, a pickup from September’s 4.6-percent growth.

Exports recorded its eleventh consecutive month of positive growth at 6.6 percent, while imports posted a double-digit growth of 13.1 percent.

“We are encouraged by the performance of Philippine trade in recent months, especially with the consistent positive performance of exports. Cooperation and trade initiatives are integral to sustaining these gains,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

Total merchandise trade grew by 11.2 percent for the first six months of 2017 compared to the first half last year.

“For 2018, we are looking at improved performances in exports of agricultural products and semiconductors, which continue to comprise a huge portion of Philippine exports,” the Cabinet official said.

This follows the expected rise in global prices of agricultural exports and World Semiconductor Trade Statistics’ expected 7-percent growth in global sales.

Pernia noted that these gains and positive outlook will be accompanied by initiatives such as Asean Seamless Trade Facilitation Indicators (ASTFI) that could help in reducing trade transaction costs by 10 percent by 2020.

The Asean-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) and Asean–HKC Investment Agreement (AHKIA) signed last month will also increase and facilitate trade in goods and services within the region.

The AHKFTA broadens market access, promotes trade confidence and cooperation while AHKIA covers protection, promotion and facilitation of investment.

“Against this backdrop, Philippine exports will likely remain in the positive territory and should pick up due to higher demand during the holiday season,” said Pernia.

The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) also committed to further enhance trade and investment cooperation between Manila and Tokyo.

Jetro congratulated economic officials led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III for their recent successful economic roadshow held last September in Tokyo.

In a letter to Dominguez, JETRO executive vice president Yuri Sato cited “the success of the Philippine Economic Briefing 2017” organized on September 26 in the Japanese capital to showcase before investors the vast investment potentials under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure modernization program.

“With seven key Cabinet members of the Philippine government presenting their commitment to Japanese investors regarding deregulation of foreign direct investment and tax reform, the briefing received high praise from participants,” Sato said in his letter.

JETRO is a Japanese government-related organization that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. It hosted a luncheon session following the briefing.

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