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Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez (left) and Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša Jr. pose with their signed economic cooperation agreement at the Board of Investments (BOI) main office in Makati City on July 31, 2017.

Philippines, Czech Republic ink economic cooperation deal

The Philippines and the Czech Republic signed last week a new economic cooperation agreement that is expected to further enhance relations between the two countries. 

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša Jr. signed the agreement on July 31 on behalf of their respective countries, which, the Czech embassy in Manila said in a statement, “aims to contribute further development in trade, investment, and economic cooperation that should create favorable conditions for (the) promotion of activities in both the Czech and Filipino markets.”

Among those who witnessed the agreement-signing at the Board of Investments (BOI) main office in Makati City were Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Manuel Teehankee and Tourism Undersecretary Reyner Yebra; representatives of Czech investors in the country, including Home Credit CFO Zdeněk Jankovský; and trade and industry officials from both countries.

“The agreement (offers) a great number of opportunities, promoting trade and industrial cooperation, and facilitating networking activities between entrepreneurial entities in areas of mutual interest and establishing an entirely new joint economic committee between the two countries,” the Czech embassy said.

“The year 2017 has been a great year for bilateral relations between the Czech Republic and the Philippines. And I, for one, am excited to know that there is a lot more to come from the greater open space for bilateral trade,” Olša said.

“As I end my tour of duty in the Philippines this month and returning to the Czech Republic, I am glad to know that I was part of this international agreement, worked on for 13 years and now has finally come of age to support the growing Czech-Philippine relations,” said Czech Deputy Head of Mission Jan Vytopil, who led the negotiation process for the agreement on behalf of his country.

According to the Czech embassy, the negotiation process started in 2004 under then-Czech Ambassador Stanislav Slavický, and involved extensive revisions and fine-tuning of legal matters between Manila and Prague.

The latest agreement is the second international cooperation deal the Philippines and the Czech Republic have signed, with the third and last one to be signed before the year ends.

The agreement came as the Czech Republic is now considered the most industrialized per capita and fastest-growing member of the European Union (EU). Its industries, chiefly transporation, chemical, medical, and defense, make up more than 32 percent of its economy. Its unemployment rate—2.9 percent as of last month—is the lowest in Europe.

The Czech Repubic is ranked ninth among the 28 EU members with trading ties with the Philippines this year, compared with 11th in 2015, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The central European nation exchanges mostly electronics with Manila. ALVIN I. DACANAY 

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