PCCI, South Africa eye increased trade, investments

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THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, will exploit emerging business opportunities brought about by the shift in South Africa’s trade focus from Europe to Asia.

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PCCI President Ambassador Alfredo Yao said renewing a memorandum of agreement with the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), successor to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of South Africa, is a first step in strengthening a strategic partnership between Filipino businessmen and the private sector of South Africa.

Yao, PCCI Chairman Miguel Varela, and other PCCI officials discussed the potentials of increased bilateral trade during a visit by Ambassador Martinus Niccolas Slabber.

Ralph Lim Joseph, chairman of the Philippines-Southern Africa Business Councils, accompanied the envoy.

South African businessmen, Yao said, can locate investments here that will qualify for tariff-free entry to the Asean integrated economies and for accessing 600 million consumers, many of them belonging to middle-income households with increasing purchasing power.

Varela said an exchange of trade missions could pave the way for discussions on how to improve bilateral trade relations. Ambassador Benedicto Yujuico, PCCI director and president of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry, emphasized that the revived cooperation agreement would be necessary to facilitate exchange of visits and planning of activities.

Ramon Escueta, Business Councils Committee chairman of PCCI, said that the MOA would push economic councils to actively pursue implementation of trade issues.

South Africa began looking east or at Asian countries with high economic growth rates about two years ago, Slabber said.

He will be discussing with the SACCI a draft memorandum of agreement to re-start bilateral efforts for increased trade with the Philippines, he added.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that local exports to South Africa amounted to $55 million in 2013 while imports from South Africa reached $273 million. Auto parts such as transmissions made here by Toyota Motors, coconut products and other high-value-added items currently lead Philippine exports to South Africa.

The Philippines is also the leading supplier of fish products to South Africa followed by Thailand, Peru and Russia, according to trade statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization.

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