THE Philippines is seeking to increase direct exports of locally manufactured high-value goods to Spain, such as computer parts and other electronic goods, the Department of Finance (DOF) said over the weekend.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said in a recent press briefing with Spain’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ignacio Ybanez Rubio that the country’s exports were now at an advantage given the strong position of the US dollar against Asian currencies including the Philippine peso.
“Our manufacturing base here is growing and growing stronger. The fact that our currency has depreciated versus the US dollar is certainly an advantage. Plus, I think also our production here is quite competitive with the rest of the world,” he said.
Direct exports to Spain, Dominguez said, could include computers and computer parts, printers and electronic parts for smartphones and other devices that are exported by the Philippines to another country before these goods eventually end up in a third country like Spain.
According to the Finance chief, bilateral trade between Manila and Madrid now stands at $600 million with the balance in favor of the latter. The value of Philippine imports from Spain amounts to $400 million, while exports total only $200 million
The DOF also cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority and the Department of Trade and Industry showing that Spain ranks eighth among the 28 member-states of the European Union trading with the Philippines, and ranks 26th among all the country’s major trading partners.
Dominguez said that on top of boosting bilateral trade ties, Spain, as a global leader in renewable energy development, may also consider investing in the Philippines, especially now with President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent pronouncements to open up the power and telecommunications sectors to foreign investors.
“The President mentioned that he would like to open up in the telecommunications area, in power, and definitely he wants to invite more competition in these sectors and other sectors of the economy for the benefit of Filipino consumers,” he said.
Ybanez, in turn, reiterated that Spanish companies are ready to come to the Philippines to invest here.
“There are many areas in which we can cooperate together and of course, contribute to the development of the Philippines, and at the same time contribute to the development of Spain,” he said.
The DOF said that the two countries are currently in the process of fine-tuning a proposed Memorandum of Understanding on Economic and Financial Cooperation, which would focus on the areas of agriculture, industry, energy and services, water infrastructure, climate finance, environmental economics, and disaster risk finance.
As of April 2016, the DOF said that total on-going Spanish official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines amounted to $29.93 million, based on data from the National Economic and Development Authority.
Program loans that Spain has extended to the Philippines so far amount to about $50 million, mostly in the form of soft loans.
The last loan agreement with Spain was for the bridge construction/replacement project of the Department of Public Works and Highways, which was executed on November 6, 2009.