• PH, Mexico to explore trade, currency agreements

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    The Philippines and Mexico will explore free trade and currency agreements to further strengthen bilateral ties and facilitate economic transactions, the Department of Finance (DoF) announced on Friday.

    In a statement, the DoF said Finance Secretary Carlos Domi nguez 3rd and Mexican Ambassador to Manila Julio Camarena Villaseñor discussed possible agreements during a recent meeting, along with Mexico’s concerns regarding double taxation and visa arrangements for its nationals visiting the Philippines.

    Dominguez broached the possibility of a currency agreement with Mexico, while Camarena proposed talks on a free trade deal with the Philippines, which, he said, was welcomed favorably by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez during their earlier meeting last year.

    “Our country has a common history. In fact, the galleon trade (between Mexico and the Philippines) was the first true free trade agreement,” Camarena was quoted as saying during the meeting.

    Camarena said Mexico has brought in some $2.8 billion in investments to the Philippines, including business operations by Cemex, its largest cement and building materials manufacturer, and Coca-Cola FEMSA, the world’s biggest franchise bottler of Coca-Cola products.

    The Philippines, in turn, has some $600 million in private-sector investments in Mexico, including Enrique Razon’s International Container Terminal Services Inc. and Ayala Corp.’s Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc. (IMI).
    In the meeting, the DoF said Dominguez assured Camarena that he would help push the Philippines-Mexico agreement on the avoidance of double taxation, which remains pending in the Senate for concurrence.

    He also assured the Mexican ambassador that he would discuss with the relevant government agencies the possibility of reciprocating Mexico’s liberal visa arrangement for Filipinos, which allows them to enter visa-free and stay in that country for as long as six months if they hold a Schengen, US or Japan visa.

    Mexican residents visiting the Philippines currently enjoy visa-free entry, but may stay for a maximum of 29 days, the DoF noted.

    Dominguez informed Camarena of an upcoming DoF mission to Mexico led by Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua to study the Mexican government’s sugar tax implementation. The ambassador assured the finance chief of his full support and assistance, according to the DoF.

    Last year, the Philippines and Mexico discussed the establishment of a Joint Economic Committee to further expand bilateral trade and investments.

    In his meeting in October last year with Trade Secretary Lopez, Camarena said Mexico invests more in the Philippines than it does in other East Asian countries and expressed Mexico’s interest in making Manila its economic gateway to this region.

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