TAIPEI, Taiwan: After years of strengthening economic relations, Taiwan and the Philippines are expected to continue experiencing increasing amounts of bilateral trade, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, with trade volume between the two countries doubling from US$6.05 billion in 2009 to nearly US$12 billion in 2014.
Current figures make the Philippines Taiwan’s 11th largest trading partner. Conversely, Taiwan is the sixth largest destination of exports for the Philippines.
In 2014, the Philippines exported US$2.07 billion in goods to Taiwan, while imports from Taiwan stood at US$9.53 billion, according to data provided by Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Berton B.C. Chiu, Taiwan’s Economic Counselor for Regional Economic Integration Projects, said that the Philippines is a “perfect place for Taiwanese investments.”
“We have a lot of investments in the Philippines and we also established a bilateral economic cooperation,” Chiu told The Manila Times in an interview.
“We are now working more closely with the Philippines to further boost bilateral trade and investment relations of both economies,” he added.
As close neighbors, Chiu said that Taiwan and the Philippines have a wide range of cooperative relations, including trade and investment, agriculture, fisheries, banking, mining, electric power, pharmaceuticals, food processing, electronics, telecommunications, labor, tourism, science, information and communication technology (ICT) and education.
“We are good in ICT. So we try to share our experience on how we develop ICT with the Philippines. I think, this could further boost our relationship with the Philippines,” he said.
In the Philippines, Taiwan investments can be found mainly in Subic and South Luzon Area. Also there are number of power generation industry investments in Visayas, and fishing industry investments in Mindanao.
Over the years, Taiwan has expanded its presence in the Philippines by establishing several companies all over the country.
Recently, there have been developments on the increase of investments of Taiwanese companies in the Philippines.
These include Cathay Life Insurance Co, Taiwan’s largest life insurer that recently acquired a 20-percent stake in Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) for P17.92 billion; the Kinpo Electronics Inc, a leading global original-design manufacturer and electronics manufacturing services partner that invested P1.4 billion to further expand its Batangas facility; the Philippine Seven Corporation, the licensee of Taiwan’s 7-eleven that posted a 28 percent growth on its net income amounting to P873 million for 2014; and the Bioteque Corporation, Taiwan’s leading medical device manufacturer that started construction of its factory in the Philippines, which will be operational by the end of this year.
Being the largest producer of LED in the world, Chiu said that Taiwan has also a lot to offer in the field of green technology.
Recently, he said that several Taiwan companies have visited the Philippines and introduced their LED lighting system, which can reduce up to 70 percent of electricity usage.
“A lot of Philippine companies have shown interest on these products,” Chiu said.
“Taiwan’s LED lighting system and solar lighting system may serve as options in areas in the Philippines that suffer from power shortages,” he added.
According to Chiu, Taiwan and the Philippines have both invested resources in smart grid planning and construction.
“Taiwanese smart grid companies hope to increase their investments and sales in the Philippines. Both sides agreed to coordinate their efforts to spur greater investment in the Philippines and the development of the smart grid industry,” he said.
Aside from that, Chiu said both countries have also expressed interests in the area of geothermal power operation.
In August last year, Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy led a 12-member delegation that visited the Philippines and discussed geothermal generation-relation policies, geothermal well drilling technologies, and volcanic geothermal technologies.
They also discussed the process of geothermal development in Taiwan; Philippines investment of geothermal power in Taiwan; and human resource cooperation.
“Taiwan has stated that the Philippines can assist Taiwan in overcoming difficulties regarding the Tatun project since the Philippines has a rich experience in the field of volcanic geothermal development,” Chiu said.
He said the Philippines offered to help Taiwan to formulate its own geothermal policy framework and enhance its capability in geothermal resource assessment through a memorandum of understanding.
Meanwhile, Chiu said that Taiwan has offered to share with the
Philippines its experience on how to develop SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) industry in the country.
“I think, your government always raised interest on how Taiwan can help the Philippines develop SME. So we try to share our experience with the Philippines,” Chiu said.
Taiwan, together with the Industrial Technology Research Institute, will help the Philippines in developing incubation centers to support the development of Filipino SMEs, he said.
“We already talked about how we can solve, address all the trade problems and also how to further boost the relationships with the Philippines in particular. I know this kind of economic cooperation will last for a very long time. We want this to continue,” Chiu added.