PCCI, US envoy hold talks over PH growth

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THE Philippine Chamber of Commerce of Industry (PCCI), the largest umbrella organization of enterprises in the Philippines, met recently with US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg to reaffirm their support for much-needed reforms so that the country can achieve inclusive growth.

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Goldberg acknowledged the role that the private sector plays in promoting reforms that would accelerate the Philippines’ growth trajectory to enable its participation in an enhanced global trade regime.

In 2011, the Philippines and the United States signed the Partnership for Growth (PFG), a bilateral engagement whose goal is to provide support for regulatory reforms, rule of law, anti-corruption and private sector development.

“With the longstanding relationship between the US and the Philippines in trade, economic and political affairs, this meeting enabled us to discuss how we in PCCI can support the various initiatives between the US and Philippine governments in support of partnership for growth,” PCCI president Alfredo Yao said.

With the Philippines already preparing for Asean 2015, PCCI said there are plenty of opportunities to scale up the value chain and promote trade and investment activities. Asean 2015 is an important vehicle for the Philippines to prepare itself for its eventual participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“PCCI views that that TPP is an important agreement to consider and also acknowledges the need for reforms to support Philippine participation in the negotiation process,” Yao said.

Yao said the Philippines should take proactive steps to review certain areas of its regulatory environment to enable readiness for TPP participation. He also underlined the need to improve the infrastructure network to ensure the readiness of local industries to benefit from the country’s international trade commitments.

He cited the support of the US Government through the USAID’s Trade Related Assistance to Development (Trade) on PCCI’s reform advocacies to make the country compliant with as well as maximize benefits from its international trade commitments. These include supporting the passage of the Competition Law and the Customs Modernization and Tariffs Acts.

He also cited the USAID’s Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (Compete), which has been providing technical assistance to electric cooperatives in aggregating their demand for power supply to achieve scale economies, bring down costs and improve efficiencies.

Demand aggregation has long been promoted by PCCI to attract more investments in power generation and address both supply shortage and rate competitiveness.

Meanwhile, Yao also encouraged PCCI members to make use of Sundays as a window for releasing container vans at the ports of Manila to ease the problem of port congestion.

“Sunday transactions at the ports were a result of the appeal of PCCI to the government to ease port congestion,” Yao said.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo responded to the PCCI proposal and committed that the Bureau of Customs will provide the staff to attend to Sunday business.

In a circular, Yao said members can let the chamber know if they encounter problems at the ports.

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