PH-Japan trade ties remain strong

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The Sub-Committee on the Improvement of Business Environment under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) concluded its seventh meeting on September 27 where participants talked about the recent improvements in the country’s business environment.

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Japanese Ambassador to Manila Toshinao Urabe and Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary and Board of Investments Managing Head Adrian Cristobal Jr. co-chaired the meeting. Representatives from the Embassy of Japan in Manila, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Japan External Trade Organization, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines and the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) were also present.

“There were a few welcome improvements in the country’s infrastructure, particularly the opening of new factories. We haven’t seen any significant problems so far regarding the country’s business environment, and we are very sure that it will grow stronger in the coming years,” said Philexport President Sergio Ortiz Luis Jr.

During the meeting, the sub-committee discussed issues related to taxes, improvements in infrastructure, and energy, as well as the utilization of seaports in Batangas and Subic and the additional surcharges introduced by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

The participants also talked about the development of the Philippines as a human resource development hub. Both sides also welcomed strengthening strategic ties between the Philippines and Japan, highlighted by the recent visits by high-ranking officials from Japan, including Japanese Prime Minister Abe.

In the first half of 2013, Japan’s imports from the Philippines hit $5.19 billion while the Philippines’ imports from Japan totaled $2.61 billion. In terms of investments to the Philippines, Japan was the second-largest investor in the second quarter of 2013 with P4.2 billion.

JPEPA is an economic partnership between the Philippines and Japan that took effect in December 2008, and provides guidelines on bilateral investments and free trade between both countries.

“The dialogues between the Philippines and Japan is ensuring transparent, predictable and consistent business environment through the concrete progress made in resolving specific issues,” the Japanese Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

It also said that “both sides agreed to make further efforts to reduce outstanding issues” before the next meeting on March 2014 and that “continuous dialogues with business communities are important to attract more investments” into the Philippines.

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